Eagle Farm to Return in April 2018
by Craig Jones
After an embarrassing two month closure, the Eagle Farm racecourse is hoping to be ready to resume racing in April 2018. The independent report which has taken place due to the problems at the course has been released.
The report has many recommendations in it, including the removal of all the existing grass on the course, and the thatch layer below. It is recommended to the course that they replace some of the base underneath the surface with angular type sand in an attempt to solve their problems.
One of the key parts of the report is the recommendation of a gradual return to racing during the first 12 months of operation. That may mean that while Eagle Farm does make a return in April, they may not be able to stage all the meetings they would like. The next winter carnival will be the target for them, and hopefully for the course they make the required changes in time.
The report has pinpointed many different areas where the $10 million track project has failed to deliver what is should have. These include using the wrong sand, the wrong grass and various budget problems. The report also found problems with the maintenance programs after construction as well as problems with weather prevention tools.
Eagle Farm closed in May, after numerous complaints from trainers, owners and even punters about the surface. Despite being Queensland’s premier racing track the course remained closed and now looks set to remain closed until next April.
After many different meetings, including with those who conducted the report, a plan has been put in place to see racing return to Eagle Farm. All parties agree on the way forward and the tenders to complete the required work will be called within the next few weeks.
The total cost of the work needed is expected to be between $1 million and $1.5 million and the work will be funded through the racing infrastructure fund. With an independent report to work with, work can now begin to rectify the problems the course has faced since redevelopment.
Going forward from here, the race dates allocated to Eagle Farm from December to March will all be relocated to other tracks in the area. A further decision will be made about the future after April as we close in on that date and the all-important Winter Festival.
With uncertainty about how many fixtures Eagle Farm will be allowed to stage in 2018, we may see more fixtures moved away from the course to allow the new surface to be eased into racing. This is something mentioned in the report, so likely to be high on the list of things to consider for the team who are looking after the redevelopment.
After months of uncertainty, at least we now have a plan in place to get racing back to the Eagle Farm racetrack. Just how much racing we will see in 2018 remains to be seen, but for now the future looks bright, with a date set for action to return.