Night Racing is set to become an even bigger feature on the Australian calendar with a $150 million dollar plan unveiled to transform the Moonee Valley Race Club from the ground up.
The blueprint takes into consideration both the surface itself as well as on course facilities of both a racing and non-racing nature.
The changes would see the width of the track increased but the circumference shortened to fit in a four tier grandstand along an extended home straight.
At this stage it’s still very much a proposal and any construction wouldn’t begin until immediately after the 2016 Cox Plate with works to be hurried along and completed by the very next August.
The main goal is to ensure Moonee Valley never loses even a single Cox Plate with other races during the ten month period to be allocated to other Victorian tracks.
The re-development itself is been aimed at increasing the number of meetings able to be held at Moonee Valley and in turn boosting wagering levels and therefore prize money for jockeys, trainers and owners.
The new grandstand and other facilities would have a conservative capacity of 40,000 people with up to 40 meetings held each year.
The lengthening of the home straight is also a vital measure to try and increase the excitement of the races in the closing stages according to MVRC Chairman Bob Scarborough.
“We will be seeking to enhance the on-course experience through our track reconfiguration and spectators in our new state-of-the-art grandstand will be significantly closer to the racing action,” he said.
“They will have greater lines of sight of the race track, a closer position to the horses at the furthest point in the back straight and a backdrop of the Melbourne city skyline. There will be sufficient seating for both members and the public.
“The venue will be more of an amphitheatre and will enhance the unique atmosphere already enjoyed at the course.
“MVRC will use modern technology for our track design, irrigation and drainage with innovations for water sustainability and a lighting system that provides a more efficient network and with reduced power usage.
“Our focus is on building a world-class night racing venue.
“Most of our meetings would be on Friday nights and the racing product would be exported to international markets through television and other electronic sources.”
The turf would be completely re-laid with the width extending 6m from 24 to 30.
The overall circumference would significantly decrease by 103m to a total of 1702 but the club says they will more easily be able to adjust between the 1000m and 3000m starting points.
“Regardless of our redevelopment plans, the track needs to be replaced within the next five to seven years, so these significant works will ensure we have a safe and high-quality surface on which to stage metropolitan race meetings,” he said.
The straight itself would increase dramatically from just 173m, the shortest straight in Australia, out to 317m.
“The extension of the track width is important as it will allow for more rail movements and enable us to have bigger fields of starters as the rail is moved out,” Scarborough said.
“We are restricted to 10 runners when the rail is out seven metres, but with the new track we could run capacity fields when the rail is out 10 metres or more.
“Maximum field limits will improve our wagering returns and the opportunities for owners, trainers and jockeys to win more prize money.
“We would also be hopeful of conducting more race meetings and propose to have 40 meetings, compared to the 28 currently in our calendar.”
Moonee Valley has been made famous by its small tight turns but that design also places plenty fo pressure on the horses and jockeys.
A wider track with improved camber will not only make the races more even and give every runner a chance, it will also make the racing safer for horse and rider.
They also plan to take advantage of the infield with horse stalls and the parade ring accessible by the crowds via an under track tunnel, it will also house a large car park.
New Racing Facilities
– New four tier grandstand on home straight with city views.
– An improved maximum capacity of 40,000.
– Brand new turf with innovative ‘green’ technology.
– Vastly lengthened home straight and track width.
– Race starts from 1200, 1600, 2040, 2400 and 3000 metres.
– Underground tunnel connecting to infield parade ring and parking.
– Top shelf lighting for predominantly night racing.
– Up to 30 night meetings and 10 extra day meets.
New Non-Racing Facilities
– 20 year plan for up to 2500 new residential units / townhouses.
– Redevelopment of the Moonee Ponds area for recreational use.
– New community services including function centre.
– Massive short term boost in construction jobs, long term boost in retail and hospitality.