After months of trials and consultations with various racing professionals, the Singapore Turf Club is set to replace the current Fibresand surface at Kranji with Polytrack.
With works to replace the Fibresand surface expected to commence in July 2008, racegoers can look forward to racing on the Polytrack surface as early as October 2008.
In order not to disrupt trackwork during the conversion process, the 1600 metres long sand training track (Track 7) which is located on the outside of the StrathAyr Turf Track will also be converted to Polytrack in May 2008 and is due for completion in June. This will allow horses to continue training for the races while the Polytrack surface is being installed on the alternate racing track.
Several synthetic surfaces had undergone a battery of tests at Kranji since August 2007 and after detailed analysis and evaluation and taking into consideration feedback from trainers and jockeys, the Singapore Turf Club has opted for a surface that in its opinion will suit the Singapore climatic conditions best.
Created by Martin Collins in England, the UK-patented Polytrack is a tried and tested synthetic surface that has been in use in the last 20 years at major racing centres around the world. It is already the surface of choice at Wolverhampton, Kempton Park, Lingfield Park Racecourses in UK, Del Mar, Keeneland and Turfway Park Racecourses in the USA and Woodbine Racecourse in Canada among others.
The latest racecourses to have adopted the Polytrack, a mixture of sand, fibres, rubber and wax, are Great Leighs Racecourse in UK and Dundalk Racecourse in Ireland while Singapore will be the first Asian country to use the surface for racing.
“The Polytrack will be a big asset for Singapore racing,” said Mr Kim Elliott, the Australasian representative of the UK-based brand.
“Its unique cushioning effect helps dissipate concussion forces to provide a racing surface that reduces injury. Horses will be able to have a longer racing life.
“It gives a secure footing as well as being more load-bearing than sand, which will allow for more races to be run. No other synthetic track is closer to turf than ours.
“We have also observed increased field sizes on our Polytrack racetracks around the world. Trainers feel a lot more confident to race their horses on such an even and competitive surface, and that can only boost betting turnover.”
Aside from being more forgiving, dust-free and generating less “kickback”, the one attribute of Polytrack that will be a bonus for rainy Singapore is its efficient water draining capability.
“The total vertical drainage allows water to pass through quickly leaving behind a consistent surface throughout. This greatly reduces the risk of race cancellation because of a flooded track,” said Mr Elliott.
The Polytrack drainage system works on a 60mm thick porous asphalt base laid over 100mm of stone drainage blanket made up of compacted aggregates and topped up with 175mm of Polytrack material. Embedded in the sub-base (beneath the aggregates) is an extensive network of perforated plastic pipes varying between 150mm and 200mm in diameter designed to remove water from the track as efficiently as possible.
“No stones were left unturned in our selection process. We have monitored the synthetic surfaces on factors such as injury rates, infiltration rates, surface hardness and surface temperatures to arrive at our decision,” said Senior Vice President (Racing) Soong Tze Ming.
“All the synthetic surfaces held up well during our tests, but Polytrack proved to have the edge.
“It’s a surface which, we believe, suits Singapore’s tropical climate best and can sustain a higher frequency of racing all year round.
“Above all, it will allow the Singapore racing industry to move up to a higher level.”
The Big G