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Track upgrade gets positive reviews

Observer staff reporter

Friday, May 05, 2017

After two and a half days of gruelling and painstaking work, horses went back to the racetrack on Tuesday morning (May 2) following a major upgrade by the promoting company, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL).

The track was closed for morning exercise on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, during which time approximately 1,500 cubic yards of dune sand was placed on the racing surface. The sand was then screened for stones and other debris before being compacted.

Chris Armond, director of racing at SVREL, speaking after exercise on Wednesday, said he was very pleased with the work done, especially from reports he had personally received from jockeys and trainers.

“The work was very demanding but we got it done. First the dune sand was sifted, then placed on the track, screened, and then compacted. SVREL had over 25 workers on the track picking any loose stones or other unwanted material that escaped the screening machine.

“It will now take time for everything to fall into place, so the track will be watered and watered, compacted and compacted until all the areas are as level and fluffy as the others.

“On Wednesday I spoke with a number of our jockeys and they were all happy with the upgrade. I also spoke with many of the trainers and they, too, expressed that the feel of the track was good,” Armond said.

In-form jockey Robert Halledeen, who was on the track on Wednesday morning, was in no doubt that the racing surface had improved.

“On Wednesday morning, I worked horses on the racetrack, and the one thing I can tell you is that the racing surface feels really good.

“The surface is very smooth and comfortable. The sand is spread out really good and thing and I think that it is better now. I believe that the horses will show a lot of improvement, plus I believe they (the horses) will become more competitive,” Halledeen said.

Long-time jockey Harriston Lewis said the track was feeling good, but made a suggestion for when this process is undertaken in the future.

“It [the racing surface] is alright and thing but, to me, I think that they should have sieved the sand first before they placed it on the racing surface. Some stones are on the racetrack and everyone is complaining of that issue, but otherwise, it was successful and everything is good so far and it is helping out a lot. The racing surface feels good, it feels like how the racetrack was before. The texture is smooth and I love it. It is just the stones that are the problem, but everything else is good,” Lewis said.

Jockey Orlando Foster, after doing some rounds on the tracks said: “I believe it was a good move to upgrade the racing surface. The track needed it and I can tell you, the feel of the racing surface is much better than before. You have a cushion now, but the only thing is that the track feels a little heavy, but otherwise, it is good. I can't complain…it has improved a lot.”

When asked about his views on the upgrade of the track, trainer Anthony Nunes said he welcomed the initiative and was pleased.

“I did not gallop any of my horses on the first day the track was reopened after the upgrade (Wednesday), but a number of my horses went around and the reports from the jockeys have been good.

“Time will smooth out some of the issues, but there is a nice fluff, which is always good, and one tell-tale sign of a good track is that when the horses go by, there is very little sound. The track is good and my hope is that the promoting company will maintain it on a consistent basis,” Nunes said.

Champion trainer Wayne DaCosta did not mince his words when he gave his views on the upgrade of the racetrack.

“Excellent, excellent. The track is in very good condition. I am very happy with the work done.

“I must tell you I had my doubts after the sand was first placed on the track as there were a lot of stones in the sand.

“The screener was used to aid this process and I was told that a lot of workers were used to pick out the stones from the sand.

“This has obviously worked and when I saw the track yesterday (Wednesday) before I sent out my horses, it was much better.

“There is now a fluff on the racetrack which was lacking for a while and punters must be aware now that the times done by horses are going to be slower until it (racetrack) is set properly.

“I watched the horses going through their paces and what was quite noticeable was that the din of the hoofs was absent,” DaCosta said.