The general consensus following gallops at the Durbanville track yesterday morning to test the refurbished track was that the changes have had a hugely positive effect.
Following a subsequent discussion between the various stake holders including Phumelela, Kenilworth Racing, trainers’ representatives, stipes and track management it was nevertheless decided to postpone the first meeting at the revamped track by a fortnight to 23 September.
This is largely a precautionary measure to give the turf a little more time to knit, but seven consecutive meetings will then be held at the “Country Course” from the new agreed date. Speaking to track manager Caven Swift, work began on the changes on 14 November last year, and things have taken a little longer than scheduled due to various setbacks.
This has also been a very cold winter, which has affected the growth of the grass, as it remains dormant below a certain temperature.
In brief the track has been relaid, the undulations flattened out, and the camber on the top bend made a lot less acute. This should lead to fairer racing at this course, which was often something of a frontrunners paradise.
Another very noticeable change is to the pull up area. Formerly runners were forced to veer left soon after the finish, which led to a few hair-raising incidents over the years.
The movement is far gentler now, which is a step forward in terms of safety.
The jockeys who rode the gallops were very impressed. Bernard Fayd’herbe said the track was “beautiful. The camber going into the first turn is different class and this will now be one of the better tracks to ride on”.
Aldo Domeyer’s verdict was “smooth with no divots. At the moment its better than Kenilworth”, while Richard Fourie contributed that “it was like a carpet, and the draw bias should be a thing of the past”.
Racecourse Manager Dean Diedericks said he was “rather impressed – the track looks great” while Phumelela Racing Executive Clyde Basel was in agreement – “I’m very proud of what has been achieved” was his verdict.
Of course we all be a lot wiser once a couple of Durbanville meetings are behind us, but the overall feeling certainly suggests a rosy future for this sometimes unfairly maligned track.
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