Grass Always Greener on the Other Side of the Rail

It seems as though we will be seeing less of Victoria’s Seymour racetrack, as the Victorian country venue will be closed indefinitely after a meeting in early April raised alarms.

It seems that turf issues on Australian flats courses are not limited to Eagle Farm.

Unlike golf courses, where divots are a common occurrence, the displacement of “large clods of turf” on a racing surface was not viewed with polite applause.

Racing Victoria has shifted planned meeting scheduled for Seymour between June and September to other surfaces. Some will be held at Ballarat and others to Echuca and Wangaratta. Locations for race meeting in the middle of August and early September will also be moved, but Racing Victoria has yet to say where.

The problem was blamed on a deterioration of the turf root structure.

“Whilst the agronomists’ report found that the track was stable, it determined that the track had not retained appropriate moisture and nutrients during the summer and early autumn irrigation period which had impacted the root depth thus leading to the enhanced divots,” a Racing Victoria statement said.

Racing participants have been reluctant to embrace synthetic tracks; so once again, we humbly suggest that it may be time to have a look at the dirt surfaces used in other parts of the world.

It is all well and good to observe tradition, but this one came from England, where grass grows to the extent that it can almost be considered a nuisance. Australia is dry and tracks need copious degrees of supplemental irrigation.

RV’s statement went on, “The report has recommended that testing be conducted both in trial plots on the racetrack and in a laboratory to determine the best way to address the issue so that it does not continue to arise each year at the end of the irrigation season.

Growing grass in dry climates can be tricky. Too much water provides a lush surface temporarily, but does not encourage the plants to put down deep root structures that can withstand the demands of racing.

Too little water and the turf simply dies.

At least the gallopers are not eating it, well, hopefully not.

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