Geelong Synthetic Track Safety Review / Victoria / 23 Apr, 2013

Racing Victoria’s (RV) Equine Welfare & Veterinary Department has released the findings of a study into the state’s sole synthetic racetrack at Geelong.

The study was commissioned to consider the safety of synthetic racing in comparison to turf racing, giving consideration to a change in Geelong’s synthetic surface during the 2009/10 racing season.

The release of the findings comes after Geelong hosted its 100th meeting earlier this month on the Pro-Ride synthetic surface which replaced the original Thoroughtrack synthetic surface.

The study considered all 10,246 starters at the synthetic track from its commencement in the 2006/07 racing season through until the completion of the 2011/12 season. It combined statistical analysis with quantitative trainer research and found;

> That there has been a 57% reduction in the fatality rate at Geelong Synthetic since the changeover from Thoroughtrack to the Pro-Ride surface in 2009-10 season;

> The Pro-Ride surface provides an equally safe surface to Victoria’s turf tracks;

> That the overall risk of fatality in flat racing in Victoria – synthetic and turf racing combined – is half that of the UK and on average a third of that in North America;

> That there was no evidence to support anecdotal reports of high injury rates, especially to soft tissue structure, and unusual or unique bone fractures when racing on the current synthetic surface;

> That an increased incidence of post-race coughing has been observed on occasions when there has been excessive kick back from the surface, however there is no evidence that the coughing causes anything more than a very temporary irritation;

> That some trainers reported an increased incidence of jarring up the next day when racing on the synthetic surface compared to turf tracks;

> That the majority of trainers support racing on synthetic tracks and view it as an important industry asset for the winter months.

The following recommendations were made by the Equine Welfare & Veterinary Department in completing the study and have now been adopted by the RV Board;

> A review of the reporting of serious musculoskeletal injuries sustained by horses during training and racing;

> Improved recording and reporting of raceday injuries in RV’s racing database to assist in on-going analysis and reviews;

> The continuation of a 2012 trial of limited post mortem examinations of fatalities at country racetracks (post mortem examinations are undertaken on all metropolitan fatalities).