Eagle Farm track to be ready in April

Eagle Farm racecourse, which has been closed for two months, should be ready to resume hosting race meetings in April.

An independent report by former Victoria Racing Club chairman Dale Monteith into its closure was released at Eagle Farm on Friday.

The report recommends the removal of the existing grass and thatch layer and replacing some of the base with angular type sand.

The report also recommended laying couch grass and also having a graduated return to racing in the first 12 months of operation.

The work should be completed in time for a return to racing in April and the next winter carnival.

Monteith pinpointed several areas where the $10 million new track had failed including using the wrong sand, wrong grass, and the budget for the project.

He also identified problems with maintenance programs during and after construction as well as weather events.

Queensland’s Racing Minister Grace Grace was supposed to be on hand for the release but she was caught up in a massive traffic jam on the Gold Coast Highway.

Eagle Farm, Queensland’s premier track, has been closed as a racing venue since May 27 and Grace instigated the independent report.

The closure followed repeated complaints by trainers, owners and punters about its surface.

Grace called a meeting of interested parties on Thursday which included Brisbane Race Club boss Neville Bell and the club’s chief executive David Whimpey as well as RQ chief executive Eliot Forbes and Monteith.

Bell and Forbes said the main point was there was a clear path to go forward with tenders for the remedial work to be called within a matter of weeks.

Forbes said the remedial work would be funded through the Racing Infrastructure Fund with the $1 million to $1.5 million cost to be covered by it not public funds.

“This report has taken into consideration all the circumstances and feedback on the track design, construction and maintenance,” Forbes said.

“It gives us a clear path on how to get Eagle Farm back racing as soon as possible.”

Asked if RQ was considering any legal action over the track failure Forbes said all options would be reviewed

He said race dates allocated to Eagle Farm from December to March would be relocated to other tracks.

Bell said it was not a matter of blame game and he wanted to emphasis the club was committed to getting back to Eagle Farm as soon as possible.

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