December 30, 2020 3:03 pm.
After a period of uncertainty regarding the future of the Seymour racetrack, Victorian racing officials have decided to reconstruct the track.
Racing Victoria (RV), Country Racing Victoria (CRV) and the Seymour Racing Club (SRC) announced their intention to go down this path on Wednesday.
Racing won’t return to Seymour until the track is right to go and no meetings will be held there for at least the next 20 months.
The decision has been made to end the ongoing uncertainty for the industry and local community around the future performance of the track and its ability to host scheduled race meetings.
Seymour was reconstructed in 2015-2016 but in the ensuing five years it has encountered issues around stability and consistency of year-round performance.
A renovation was undertaken in early 2020 to re-introduce warm climate kikuyu grass which was expected to consolidate across a full summer growing period but that also failed.
Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said they had no alternative other than to go down this path and he apologised to the industry and Seymour based participants that they didn’t get it right the first time around.
“Like all within the industry and the local community we are incredibly disappointed and frustrated that the Seymour track has failed to live up to its potential,” Thompson said.
“Clearly the intention when it was reconstructed in 2015-16 was to deliver a first-class racing and training surface for the north east and indeed the state of Victoria.
“That hasn’t happened though and whilst progress was slowly being made, the time has come to take more invasive action to address the track’s issues around stability and consistency of year-round performance,” he said.
Thompson said the predominantly sand-based profile has not proven conducive to Seymour and the reconstructed track would be a traditional loam-based profile.
Thompson said Seymour deserved to be known as one of Victoria’s better tracks.
The Tracks Advisory Panel has assisted RV, CRV and SRC in the evaluation process, along with respected turf consultant Peter Anderson from SportsTurf and Sandown Racecourse Manager, Tim Bailey, has also been engaged to oversee the implementation of the project to reconstruct the track.
The reconstruction will commence in the opening quarter of 2021 with racing not expected to resume before the spring of 2022 and only when the track has appropriately consolidated.
The industry has made an application for funding support for the project through the Victorian Racing Industry Fund.
Seymour’s remaining eight meetings in the 2020-21 season will be transferred to other venues, while no meetings will be programmed at the track in the 2021-22 season.
The 2021 transfer venues are as follows: 6 January (Wangaratta), 17 January (Wangaratta), 8 February (Wodonga), 19 February (Benalla), 4 March (Werribee), 3 May (Kyneton), 3 June (Wangaratta), and 11 July (Wodonga – which shifts from 18 July where it is replaced by Echuca).