Moe on course for return

Moe Racing Club is optimistic of a return to racing next month after official trials were staged without ado on Monday.

Some 20 simulated races took place on the redeveloped surface in the club’s first full hit-out since last August, when severe divoting and poor performance through winter caused the cancellation of the Moe Cup and all on-track operations.

At the time of going to print Racing Victoria had not advised MRC of its decision on the track’s viability to resume operations, but MRC chief David McKinnon was hopeful of receiving a pass mark.

“Everything went pretty well, there was good feedback from the jockeys and trainers alike,” McKinnon said.

“As far as I’m aware there were no major concerns and the track performed as required to return to racing.

“We’re very pleased with the way the track held together; it seemed to get better as the day went on.

“In the early parts of the day we were on a bit of an edge but by the end of the day it was looking a lot better and good tracks have a certain sound when the horses go over them, and it certainly sounded good.”

Since ceasing on-track operations the club has undergone a top layer redevelopment of the track under the guidance of the all-weather surface’s manufacturer, StrathAyr.

The club treated the thatch layer – dead material accumulated on top of the track which provides moisture and nutrients for the surface – and discovered some clay mixed in from the construction phase.

McKinnon said the precise source of the problem had not yet been identified.

“There’d been a whole lot of contributory factors and there’s still different schools of thought as to (what) was causing clumps of grass to shear off and fly up,” he said.

“We’ve taken remedial action as directed by the manufacturer of the track who’s responsible for it… hopefully what they’ve suggested and the nutrients we’ve ploughed into the track, the grass, the seeds and everything else all come together and give us the desired result.

“The only way to determine whether that’s fixed or not will be the next three or four race meetings.”

MRC has race meets scheduled for 16 and 25 April along with another event on 16 May.

McKinnon said those events would go ahead should the club receive the tick of approval from RV.

“As soon as they say they’re happy, which I expect they will, I’ll be very confident that they’ll all proceed,” he said.

MRC outlaid $3.04 million for a resurfacing project in 2012 to ensure no further loss of meetings following 20 transferred racedays in a two-year period.

The club had expected the new all-weather sand based track would hold up for at least three decades without issue but was forced off just two years after redevelopment.

McKinnon said undertaking another surfacing project had been taxing but necessary.

“It’s a long process and we’ve been very mindful of doing everything exactly as the manufacturer wants us to do, because ultimately legal action may well take place for the amount of time we’ve been out of racing, but we wanted to make sure we ticked all the boxes,” he said.

The club staged successful jumpouts in February with local trainers which led to Monday’s official trials.

“The fact we got to that process and it performed well is a pleasing result for everyone at the club; no-one wants to get back to racing more than everyone here.”

The club expected advice from RV this week.