THE need for Eagle Farm to be back in action as soon as possible was highlighted again on Tuesday when Ipswich was rated a soft 7 for Wednesday’s meeting despite only 7 ½ mm of rain being recorded at the track in the past seven days.
It is no secret that the majority of racetracks in southeast Queensland are struggling as they shoulder a heavier workload with Eagle Farm out of action.
The rail has been a slow zone at the Gold Coast for months, while last Wednesday’s meeting at Doomben copped plenty of criticism after it was tough to make ground with the rail out 10.5m and raced like a soft 6 or 7 despite minimal rain being recorded.
Heavy morning dews and cooler conditions have added to the problem in recent weeks but the constant sight of biased and wet tracks are frustrating punters and trainers alike.
It comes as works to the Eagle Farm redevelopment continue to be stalled as the Brisbane Racing Club wait on a $12 million loan to install tunnels under the track to be approved by the State Government.
The long hold up has led the BRC to now consider taking out a private loan to finish the project.
Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching admits Wednesday’s surface will definitely be in the soft range despite the track being rated a firm 2 for the majority of the Ipswich meeting last Friday.
“We’ve been having some heavy dews in the morning and with the way our track is we expect it won’t be a lot better than a soft 7 (today),” Kitching said on Tuesday.
“Since the refurbishment was done 12 months ago the track has raced quite a bit differently.
“There were corrugations becoming progressively worse since the floods of 2011 and the process was to take the top off the track and level it out and put the turf back on.
“It got rid of the corrugations but it has resulted in a much firmer surface.
“It means when it is dry the horses are running track records but when it rains the water basically sits on top because it’s a very thick surface.
“It is a concern and the last 12 months we’ve had to returf seven different times as a result of racing on a rain affected track.”
Kitching is confident the issue can be resolved in time but other projects such as Eagle Farm will take priority.
One trainer bemused by the soft 7 rating on Tuesday was Brisbane-based Lawrie Mayfield-Smith, who has The Thomas Affair engaged in Race 6.
All four of The Thomas Affair’s wins have come on good tracks and Mayfield-Smith feels his gelding can win the benchmark 75 handicap (1680m) on Wednesday if the track isn’t too wet.
“I don’t know how they came up with the soft 7 rating and it was a firm 2 last Friday and they haven’t had much rain since then,” he said.
“He doesn’t really handle the wet but he is always thereabouts and he finished second to In The Genes last start and that horse won again at Doomben on Saturday.”