Strathayr surface to make rain abandonments in Brisbane virtually non-existent
ABANDONED meetings will become non-existent in Brisbane in the future if Mackay’s Strathayr surface is any guide.
Mackay was pummelled with more than 100mm on Thursday, yet the track deteriorated to only a Soft 6 during the course of the meeting and the Open handicap horses were still able to break 35 seconds for their final 600m in the sixth event.
Doomben was washed out after more than 100mm fell on Thursday and Friday and the Gold Coast was also abandoned.
Doomben is renowned as one of the best drying tracks in southeast Queensland, but technology has improved dramatically since its last revamp.
Mackay, like Toowoomba, is a Strathayr track built with a reinforced sand profile.
It is designed to drain at a rate of 100mm per hour.
Jockey Justin Stanley, a winner on Craiglea Jabiru on Thursday, declared it “the best surface in Australia”.
“If that track had been at the Gold Coast or Doomben, we would have been racing here on Saturday,” Stanley said.
“The drainage is just remarkable. For a track that had 100mm, we were just stunned.
“ They were hardly marking the track, there were no issues with visibility — apart from a few goggles fogging up — and there was no kickback.”
Though the Brisbane Racing Club and Racing Queensland have gone with Evergreen, rather than Strathayr, Eagle Farm is also going to be designed to cater for drainage at the same rate.
The concept is similar.
It will have a reinforced sand profile, but unlike the Strathayr, which uses mesh in grid form to bind the sand, Eagle Farm will have fibre mixed through the sand.
Evergreen has been involved with a number of prominent projects, including the new 2400m Pakenham grass track, which is scheduled to have its first meeting in March.
The trailblazer in Australia for Strathayr tracks was Moonee Valley, which is now into its 20th season on the surface.
MVRC chief executive Michael Browell is unaware of any meetings being lost through rain in that time and said even though Melbourne was not subjected to the tropical-type rain received in Queensland, it was still a phenomenal record.
“It’s 20 years old, but the track here is still outstanding. We’re rapt with it,” Browell said.
Mackay will come in for heavier use over the next six months, with Townsville set for a $7 million upgrade.
Racing Queensland this week shifted meetings scheduled at Townsville up to March 7 to Cairns and Home Hill so preliminary works can begin immediately.
The aim is to have Townsville resume racing in time for its carnival in July and Mackay is certain to be allocated some of those Townsville meetings up to that point.