Track issues at Port Macquarie racecourse

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Racing NSW admit all options are on the table – including ripping the Port Macquarie racecourse track up again following the Port Cup.

Several race meetings have already been transferred from the Port Macquarie track due to sub-surface concerns and next month’s Camden Haven Cup appears headed for Kempsey.

It’s the end result of a failure to upgrade the track correctly two years ago despite spending $3.7 million on the project. The situation is now dire with compacted sand causing significant drainage issues.

Racing NSW general manager for industry Scott Kennedy said all options were on the table, including ripping up the track following the Port Cup on October 5.

“We’re looking at all our options,” Kennedy 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.”

Kennedy admitted the track did perform better in the warmer months due to the way the grass grew and knitted together.

It is the cooler months that pose the problems the race club and Racing NSW currently face.

“We don’t want to just put up with it performing sub-optimally, that isn’t an option,” Kennedy said.

“It’s getting a break now because it is performing sub-optimally and we’re considering our options in the meantime which we will discuss with the club.

“They’ve got a massive stake in it and it’s a growing area and it’s important to us that racing is strong there in the medium to long-term.”

Trainer Neil Godbolt said fellow trainers had been told the next race meeting would not be until the end of September.

“The soils haven’t mixed together and the topsoil that went on it went down through the sand and now it’s blocking the drainage up,” he said.

“It’s very soft; it’s not a hard surface, but the grass won’t knit together, it’s very loose.

“The bottom line is it’s been a failure – you can’t put it any other way because it hasn’t had a lot of racing on it since it was built.”

Port Macquarie Race Club chief executive Michael Bowman conceded the track is currently not up to standard and there were some issues.

“It seems the mix they put in originally is not going to work long-term and the soil itself is not binding,” Bowman said.

“Being winter, any damage to the track takes a while to fix; the stability with the grass is an issue.

“We are still hopeful of hosting the Camden Haven Cup, but we want it in good shape for the Port Cup Prelude and the Cup.”

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