Racing: Newcastle Jockey Club says Beaumont course set to reopen in late March

Two meetings in December were moved from the inside, Beaumont surface at Newcastle Racecourse to the main track.

Another was shifted to Quirindi last month, while the February 1 program was transferred to the course proper. The February 15 meeting was also moved to the main track but was on Monday instead switched to Muswellbrook.

Trials were last held on the Beaumont track on October 2 and racing has not been on that course since February last year.

The Beaumont track was due to host more meetings this season as the replacement course for Cessnock, which has been closed to racing after the NJC transferred its ownership to Racing NSW.

The governing body is set to convert Cessnock into a pre-training facility while helping fund stable developments at Newcastle Racecourse.

Benson said the issue with the Beaumont track was not major and coincided with planned extensive drainage work on the entire track.

He said the roundworm, a nematode, had thrived in the wet summer conditions.

“Nematodes have been in tracks for years,” Benson said. “It was simply exacerbated over the very warm and wet period over Christmas.

“It’s just purely a safety issue because the nematode attacks the root system and can make the surface a little bit shifty.

“There was an issue with it just before I started here and then we had four years of drought. Not a nematode in sight.

“So it’s probably a combination of the Beaumont track needing a renovation and all this wet, warm weather.

“But we are putting in new slit drainage on the Beaumont now, which is a major project, so we decided to do a renovation of the Beaumont leading into the placement of the new drainage around the whole track.

“We will hopefully be racing on it by the end of March.”

Benson said the drainage work was always scheduled for early February.

“That’s going to be put track out of contention for six weeks and after that, we will do extensive verti draining of the whole Beaumont track,” he said.

He said a trial section of the drainage system, from the 150m mark to 50m past the finishing post, had proven successful.

“That part of track has improved out of sight,” he said. “It was always the worst part of the track and now it’s the best.”

The loss of the Beaumont track has meant the all-weather course proper, rated as one of the best race surfaces in Australia after its multi-million dollar redevelopment completed in 2017, has been in regular use.

The past two Saturday meetings at Newcastle have not been completed after rain on both days prompted stewards to abandon latter parts of the programs because of visibility and track concerns from jockeys. The course has four more meetings in the next month, including the group 3 Newcastle Newmarket program on March 5.

“It probably means a bit more traffic on the course proper but it’s been fine,” Benson said. “All it’s meant is we’ve had to get a little more creative.

“We had some jump-outs from the 1850 down the back straight the other day and they worked brilliantly.

“It’s virtually virgin grass there, and it’s a good thing because when you have these things crop up, you have to get a bit innovative and come up with solutions.”


Article : Newcastle Herald :

Photo Credit : Craig Kerry