Eagle Farm track “healthiest it has ever been” ahead of Group 1 features
THE Eagle Farm track is the “healthiest it has ever been” since its controversial renovation with Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell adamant the surface will hold up to four Group 1 meetings in five weeks.
The firm surface has been one of the major talking points in the industry for more than six years but Parnell believes recent work to improve the cushion in the track has had the desired effect.
It will be almost a month between racing on the surface with the Victory Stakes on May 1 the last meeting held there.
“The turf is the healthiest it has ever been, it is much longer than last winter and there has been some cushioning done between the Victory Stakes meeting and this meeting so we are expecting improved cushion,” Parnell said.
“The rye grass which you sew through winter has come through strongly.”
Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell speaking at Eagle Farm. Photo: Tara Croser.Source:News Corp Australia
With severe kickback one of the main concerns over the surface in the past, Parnell said significant work had gone into eradicating disease out of the roots in order to improve its strength.
“In March last year disease got into the roots,” he said. “Normally you wouldn’t do a big renovation before the carnival but we had to get the disease out.
“That set us back a period of time and we got through with a shorter grass length with the focus on getting the disease out.
“The disease is all out and the root health is the best it has ever been as a result. A year ago it was a bit frail and the grass was shorter, this year it is not frail and the grass is longer and the rye grass is stronger.”
It comes as master trainer Chris Waller said he is hoping for a thick covering of grass on the Eagle Farm track this week as he prepares to set a team of at least five for the Queensland Derby on Saturday.
Waller confirmed he has not held any horses back over fears about the track and is set to have the weight of numbers on his side in the $600,000 Group 1.
“I hope they have got plenty of grass on it. If there is plenty of grass it might just help create some middle ground,” he said.
”I am hearing that it is looking better and I am just going to hope that is the case because we need it to be performing as a world-class facility to get the confidence everyone in the industry.
Jim Byrne inspects the first track at Eagle Farm. Photo: Annette DewSource:News Corp Australia
“We can only speak positively now, racing is in a good space at the moment.”
Waller is preparing a team of at least five for the Derby with Achiever, Bucharest, Fortified, Kukeracha and Senor Toba all expected to run.
After winning the race in 2013 with Hawkspur, Waller is taking his strongest team to the race since then.
Ranch Hand also returns in the Group 2 Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) who looks to improve off his first-up run on the Gold Coast two weeks ago.
After getting caught on the wrong part of the track, he fought on well and Waller believes despite being one of the early favourites for the Magic Millions this year, he is a late-maturing horse.
“His run on the Gold Coast was very good,” Waller said. “He is a later maturing two-year-old, even three-year-old so what he was doing as an early two-year-old was good I thought.”
Originally published asEagle Farm track “healthiest it has ever been”
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