Screens & Feeders

Innovative racing surfaces under the spotlight

Alex Fraser Group is completing works at Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse to provide sustainable solutions to the track redevelopment.

Working with the Victoria Racing Club’s principal contractor T James & Son Constructions, Alex Fraser Asphalt initially profiled 10,000 tonnes (correct weight) from the track.

The profiled material was then recycled and stockpiled for use in the new track, providing the most sustainable outcome for the project.

An open graded asphalt is now being laid. This porous asphalt mix is formulated to provide large voids (in excess of 20 per cent) to provide better drainage and improve the safety for horses and riders. Once the sustainable asphalt is laid, a rubber compound will be laid on top to provide a safe and durable training track for the horses.

“We’re very happy to be working with T James & Son Constructions again on such an interesting project,” Alex Fraser’s profiling manager Andrew Barbara said. “It’s great to hear from our customers that we’re winning their jobs because of our customer service, quality and reliability.”

Racing on iconic landmarks

Flemington Racecourse isn’t the only iconic piece of turf to be recycled within Australia. It might seem implausible but Sydney Harbour Bridge could potentially hold a race meeting. Racing NSW is reportedly set to meet with representatives of English events company City Racing in the next couple of months to discuss the possibility.

Peter Phillips, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, has been planning the street-racing concept for the past couple of years. He had the idea after staging an equestrian event on a similar surface on Horse Guards Parade in London.

He told BBC News that the event demonstrated how safe “pop-up” conditions for horses in a competitive environment could be installed and removed within three days.


Working with equine surface manufacturers Andrews Bowen, a successful trial was held at Aintree racecourse in November 2018.

A special synthetic surface would be laid on the streets, topped with a thick layer of sand to withstand the weight of thoroughbreds racing at speed.

"The surface has been rigorously tested and the feedback from jockeys and trainers has been positive," Phillips told the BBC. "We are dealing with horses who are athletes and injuries happen but we have to make sure we put all the checks and balances in place.

"Equine safety is paramount. We have a veterinary advisory board and a gold standard welfare framework."

Phillips said the track, surface, sub-layer and railings would all require sanctioning from the British Horseracing Authority.

'Coat Hanger' race?

France Galop, the governing body of flat and steeplechase horse racing, is understood to have a working date of 16 September for a race meeting on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

It’s understood that Racing NSW doesn’t want to be the first to use the synthetic paletted racing surface. If Paris were to hold a meeting it would accelerate Racing NSW’s involvement, The Age recently reported.

The track will have to be used somewhere else in the world before the NSW racing authority commits to holding a race meeting and seeking the approvals from various levels of government.

The Harbour Bridge event would almost certainly be held under lights and be proposed as a six-race meeting.


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