While the field sizes are not anything to get excited about, racing returns to the country course of Durbanville on Saturday after a four month break.
“The track is in a beautiful condition and the well timed 4 mms of rain on Monday evening has taken the sting out of things,” said Durbanville Track Manager Caven Swift, who chatted to the Sporting Post after 60 horses galloped at the scenic venue this morning.
There must be some irony in the fact that Saturday’s racecard could only attract 72 runners, while 60 pitched for Thursday morning gallops!
“The new look Durbanville has proven to be a much fairer racetrack and I hope that the field sizes will improve as we go along,” said Caven, who boasts years of experience with decades of service at Clairwood, Summerveld – four years at Philippi, and the past five at Durbanville.
He explained that the drought had not unduly impacted upon the track conditions but conceded that the gardens were looking a bit drab.
“We have a borehole which we water the tracks with via a dam. The municipal water cannot be used as it is prohibitively expensive. We are not a summer rainfall region so we water with the borehole during the growth periods.”
Much the same process was followed year in and year out and the scarification had commenced after the last meeting in October.
“We top-dressed the back straight about a month ago. As we have regular gallops here on Thursdays, we tend to limit the trainers to the straight and keep them in channels to ensure even wear and tear over the straight.”
Durbanville, a track that was not much loved by many jockeys and trainers and was seen as an oversensitive surface where barrier draws counted ahead of the ability of horse and rider,underwent a desperately needed upgrade that commenced in 2016 and which included a redesign of the bend.
To accommodate this the main straight had to be moved out. As a result the winning post was moved fractionally back. In practical terms, the back straight now meets the turn at a lesser angle and the exit into the home straight is more gentle, relieving some of the draw and track bias.
This redesign was shown to have been effective earlier this season with horses winning from varied draws and from off the pace.
One hopes that the local trainers will warm to the alternative option again and support racing at the Big D.
The first race is off at 13h15 on Saturday.
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