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EQUESTRIAN


With an eye on the


environment, the risings from the lawns and track strip are mixed with the used bedding from the stables to generate 20-30 tonnes of compost


much as we used to. The old practice was to throw a five-tonne roller on, but then you start to get drainage issues. I used the Cambridge roller three-times last year, but it only goes on if I feel it really warrants it. However, the TDR has finishing rollers on it and seems to do the job. I prefer my team to repair the track rather than roll it back. I carry out aeration work with the Soil Reliever, using pencil tines at a depth of seven inches at least three times a year during the season; it takes about twelve hours to do the whole track. In winter, we will use a Soil Reliever with bigger tines.”


Renovation of the track takes place immediately after the last race meeting of the season, dependent on the weather. “Over three days, we will gradually take the height of cut down to an inch, vacuum all the arisings off, then springtine harrow - twice clockwise and twice counter-clockwise to rip out most of the thatch. We like to keep a certain percentage in there for the racing season as it gives a cushion. We will vacuum up all the debris left behind from


the tine harrow, then soil and seed any divot marks. Next, we overseed the running line (which is four metres from the running rail), with approximately thirty bags using a disc seeder. This is what gets most wear during the season then, three days after, we use the Imants Shockwave.”


Part of the BHA’s mandate is that the racecourse has to contract an agronomist to provide a report annually and Carl uses STRI. “The turf culture needed assistance years ago, because the knowledge base in the racecourse industry wasn’t as all- encompassing as it could be. Working closely with STRI over the last fifteen years has helped the racecourse industry move on quite dramatically. We have been recommended more viable products than we used in the past; it used to be agriculturally based up until then. We now use a lot more professional groundsman techniques; areas of weak sward will receive individual treatment, using a specific fertiliser, rather than just spreading a 20:10:10 all over the track. Our fertiliser programme depends on


the annual soil results, but we will generally fertilise twice a year; once before the start of the season to give it a boost using 65 bags of 16:4:10 and, in the hard wear areas, we will use an organic product. The second application of 85 bags of 5:2:8 will go down in July over the whole of the track.” Carl tells me his boss is a fan of green and yellow, so all machinery is generally bought outright through Ripon Farm Services, the local John Deere supplier.


Carl is from the Black Country in the West Midlands, which is heavily industrialised, and his parents didn’t want him to enter that industry. He has always been interested in working in the countryside, which led him to go to agricultural college. “I started my career on farms in the late ’80s, but at the time that industry was suffering quite a bit and I saw there was a part-time job going at Wolverhampton racecourse as a sample unit security officer. With my experience dealing with horses, I took that job up for a season and then, because I could drive tractors, I fell into a job as a groundsman at the course. I


Sole UK Distributor of Fornells Products


Sports grounds


Prestige crowd barrier


Suppliers of PVC Fen


Su ncing Products


Fornells 10108 Running Rail


Fornells 10100 Running Rail


t: 01748 822666/07966 529666 w: www.wattfences.com e: bill@wattfences.com


Low maintenance Doesn’t absorb moisture Eliminates painting costs


5 times stronger and 4 times more elastic than wood


PC August/September 2019 115





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