Aeration to help Ascot Park galloping track

Southland Racing Club president Sean Bellew checking the root structure of grass on the galloping track at Ascot Park.
ROBYN EDIE/FAIRFAX NZ

Southland Racing Club president Sean Bellew checking the root structure of grass on the galloping track at Ascot Park.

Aeration machinery will be bought to assist in the Ascot Park galloping track having better grass root structure, Southland Racing Club president Sean Bellew says.

A drainage issue on the bend near the 800m will also be addressed in the wake of the club's meeting being abandoned after four races on Saturday.

After The Theme slipped twice near the 800m in race four, race officials and most jockeys agreed the track was unsafe and to call the meeting off. Stake money for the five races not held will be put into stakes on the second day of the Riverton meeting next Monday. 

Bellew said the club had been consulting with soil and grass experts about ways to improve the track and they believed it could take three years to get the right surface. 

"There are different soil types all the way round [the track]. The grass root structure needs to go down another 20 to 25 [millimetres]," Bellew said.

"When the track was built, there was a clay base and water is not getting through to the drain [on the 800m bend]." 

Repair work can be done without having to transfer race meetings to other courses. Aeration machinery costing up to $50,000 will be used.

Bellew trained the winner of the last race held on Saturday and his jubilation turned to concern when a few jockeys returned to the birdcage with track safety issues.

"It was like falling off a cliff," Bellew said.

"I've won a race and then I'm in the [stewards] room trying to save the raceday."

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 - The Southland Times

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