Racing Victoria have announced that the first race meeting on the redeveloped Ballarat track will not take place until October.
The redevelopment of the Ballarat track began after the running of the 2013 edition of the Listed Ballarat Cup (2200m) on November 24, which was won by 2014 Melbourne Cup favourite The Offer, and Racing Victoria spent $1.5 million to lay a new surface and remove the famous dip in the home straight.
Racing was set to return to Ballarat on June 1, but the meeting was abandoned the night before due to heavy rain and the meeting scheduled to take place at Ballarat on June 19 was transferred to Donald.
Ballarat was set to host meetings on July 30, August 10, September 7 and September 21, but those meetings have now been transferred to Geelong, Warrnambool and Wangaratta; with racing set to resume at Ballarat on Wednesday October 8.
Racing Victoria Executive General Manager Of Infrastructure James McGuinness said that it was the work done to remove the dip from the home straight that was still causing problems and he believes that pushing back the return to racing is the right call for the long-term future of the track.
“The track received a positive report in mid-May from senior jockeys and stewards ahead of its scheduled return to racing on 1 June, however they could not have foreseen the issue with compaction and in hindsight it was the wrong call to return at this time,” McGuinness said in a statement.
“There were considerable earthworks undertaken in the home straight and the application of extra irrigation to keep the new turf healthy through an unusually hot spell in late summer has led to the profile being more compacted than anticipated.
“The issue was highlighted after the first major rainfall event prior to the scheduled return on 1 June, which resulted in surface water on the day.
“The situation in the home straight is in contrast to the remainder of the track which required fewer earthworks and is absorbing rainfall as required.
“It was our intention to ensure that the track would hold up to winter racing and the surface not chop out whilst consolidating, but it is clear that the surface profile in the straight is now too compact.
“We don’t believe we can correct it during winter without causing long term damage to the track and thus we have agreed it’s in the Club’s long-term interests to postpone the reopening until October.”
The 2014 Ballarat Cup will be held on Saturday 22nd November and the end of the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival; with the Ballarat Cup card to he held as a Saturday metropolitan meeting for the first time in history.