The only solution to improving the current condition of the Port Macquarie racecourse appears to be re-laying the track.
That’s the message from trainers and jockeys and one Port Macquarie Race Club president Michael Bowman is finding more and more difficult to argue against.
Bowman admitted it was a frustrating ongoing concern for everyone after last Saturday’s race meeting was cancelled due to the poor state of the track following moderate rainfall.
“The track has deteriorated from when it was installed and is not how it was supposed to be,” he said.
“We’re aware that the sand mix that made up the track no longer complies with what was originally proposed.”
The $3.7 million upgrade to rebuild the surface included a perched water table profile that could drain to a minimum of 180 millimetres in one hour.
So it came as a surprise when last weekend’s meeting had to be cancelled after the track – despite its rating as a heavy nine at the time – was deemed to be unsafe.
Around 20 millimetres of rain had fallen in Port Macquarie in the 24 hours leading up to the decision to cancel the meeting.
We’re aware that the sand mix that made up the track no longer complies with what was originally proposed – Michael Bowman
However, when holes believed to be the size of a dinner plate were noticed by stewards in their morning check of the track, the decision was a no-brainer.
“I know it’s less than ideal and we’re very disappointed, but it is what it is,” Bowman said.
“The trainers are well aware that this is the process and I can’t do anything to speed it up.
“It’s my signature on the contract, but it’s Racing NSW that are the ones that put the money into it and they have been diligent about it.”
Less than 12 months ago, there were concerns the Port Macquarie Cup may have been cancelled due to rain in the weeks leading up to the event.
At the time, Racing NSW general manager for industry Scott Kennedy said all options were on the table, including ripping up the track.
“We’re looking at all our options,” he said.
“It’s not holding together as well as we’d like and we’re not satisfied with the performance of it at this time.”
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