We are all being lied to about Eagle Farm being ready again in time for next year’s Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival sportsfans.
It’s bullsh*t and it ain’t gunna happen, and I’m not being a naysayer or a mock by writing this, I’m just telling you the straight out truth, because somebody has to, just like somebody has to tell you exactly what Dale Monteith laid out as the steps required to get the Farm back on track and ready to race in time for the beginning of the carnival in the last week of April.
Here it is then, step by step, the Monteith Solution.
A. Remove the top 75mm of the track.
This involves the removal of all the grass, the organic layer (peat moss and fertilisers), and a portion of the sand.
B. Put in a 50 mm layer of angular sand or sandy loam (it is believed RQ have plumped for the sandy loam) and incorporate (blend) the new sand or sandy loam into the top 150 mm of the track.
C. To be done properly this requires removing at least a further 50-100 mm of the remaining sand, and in ideal circumstances the whole lot, and using screens (filters, similar to those used to pan for gold but hopefully on a larger and more hi-tech scale) and automated blending equipment to mix the old (dud) and new (good) sands together.
D. The newly blended sand must then be relaid into the track.
E. Spread nutrient retention products – essentially fertilisers like dynamic lifter fines or zeolite – across the surface of the sand, and then add nutrient amendments such as calcium, potassium or superphosphate on top of that.
F. This layer of nutrients must then be cultivated into the base layers using power harrows.
G. Sod the track (lay) with 6-7 hectares of Wintergreen Couch.
H. Immediately after the turf is laid the track needs to be comprehensively watered and then firm rolled to set in the grass, firming it out so that it is level and any air pockets are removed, in order that the newly laid turf can make firm contact with the under-layer and ‘catch’ so the roots can grow into the sand and nutrient mix.
I. The newly laid track then needs to be established – nourished, watered, weeded and maintained – for a minimum of 12 weeks.
J. During this time the track must be top-dressed with 100 cubic metres of sand per hectare, meaning about 600-700 cubic metres of sand must be dressed in.
K. The track then needs to be cored – pierced with spikes; think of golf shoes on the green and you’ve got it- and scarified, which means sliced (imagine running your garden edger across the lawn, that’s it), so that it can be oxygenated and de-thatched to avoid the previous clumping problems that resulted in the retention of moisture at the top of the surface and heavy 8 and 9 tracks during weeks of brilliant sunshine.
L. After all this is done and the track and has been fully established for 12 weeks – and assuming of course that there are no setbacks or issues that push out the schedule – the track needs to be oversown with pasture rye grass at least 8 weeks before racing resumes. The purpose of the rye is to ensure a thick, but not thatched, racing surface that is robust enough to cope with both the winter carnival and year round racing.
M. Before racing resumes the new track must be evaluated and tested under race like conditions by conducting (in order) track work, jump outs and then barrier trials, and having the track condition assessed and evaluated by expert consultants engaged specifically to perform the task.
Okay, that’s it. You got it?
Simple isn’t it? If you regard a major military style exercise conducted under stringent time limitations and with maximum speed and efficiency easy that is.
So there is what Mr Dale Monteith – whose report is quoted every time Nify Nev, ET Forbes, Gee Gee Grace or Whirlwind Wilson open their gobs – prescribes as the cure required for all of Eagle’s Farm’s ills sportsfans, told to you in full by a racing writer for the first time ever.
But how the f*ck are Racing Queensland and the Brisbane Racing Club going to do it?
Today is the 16th of October 2017.
The Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival is set to kick off at Eagle Farm with the traditional running of the time-honored WFA Sir Byrne Hart Stakes and Gunsynd Classic for three-year-olds on the 28th of April 2018.
There are 27 weeks between now and then, with Christmas and New Year in the middle.
The track must be laid and maintained for a minimum period of 12 weeks, and then another 600-700 cubic metres of top-dressing sand must be placed on track, spiced and sliced, and then 7 hectares of rye grass have to be over-sown in and grown for a minimum period of 8 weeks before racing resumes.
There are 20 of our available 27 weeks gone before we start and all we have done is whack down the grass, grow it and then top-dress it and chuck rye seeds on top.
All the rest of the work – the laborious, time-consuming heavy stuff like digging up the track twice, mixing sand, relaying it all all that jazz – has to be done in the remaining 7 weeks.
Every Queenslander knows that the State’s heaviest rains always come during the summer months of December to February, the crucial period in which the track must be established. Often it floods in Brisbane around January, just like it has in various degrees for three of the past six years. Average rainfall during a South-East Queensland summer is 426.6 mm, or nearly 17 inches.
This means that we are London to a Brick on of losing at least a cumulative 2-3 weeks of the 27 and maybe more, and at this stage no-one can predict how the summer storms and cyclones might affect the Eagle Farm track, and what sort of setbacks might be suffered.
As I said earlier Christmas and New Year also falls within this period so another week will be lost.
We haven’t got many left have we sportsfans?
Don’t forget either that I’m counting from today, and as you can see from the photos taken at Nifty Nev’s recent 70th birthday party no work whatsoever has begun as yet.
Nil, Zip. Nada. None.
And rain is predicted for entire coming week.
There is no way on earth that Eagle Farm can be ready in time for the Carnival Carnival punters. It is physically impossible.
Monteith stressed in the executive summary of his report that if we wanted to hold carnival racing at headquarters work on rectifying the track asap, by which he meant straight away, but in the 8 weeks since he handed down his report nothing of any material consequence has happened.
Racing Queensland and the BRC have f*cked around for too long, and now its too late and they’ve missed the boat. The press releases they pre-distributed yesterday and will publish on their website later this morning in response to the criticisms first raised on this site and subsequently picked up by the broader press are just self-serving nonsenses full of a mix of false hope, huge amounts of arse covering and an unhealthy smattering of deliberately delivered downright lies.
The truth is that RQ and the BRC have totally ballsed it up again.
Have they done it deliberately? My mail says so, but only time or some fair dinkum investigative reporting by the mainstream media will tell, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the latter unless you want to join 4 generations of my family in the wall of St Augustine’s Church just a furlong down Racecourse Rd from the Stradbroke Handicap starting stalls.
There is only one solution to the catastrophe that we once called Queensland racing, and it is stunningly simple.
Sack the whole lot of them.
The Racing Queensland board and management, the BRC Directors, the lawyers, the consultants, the subcontractors, everyone.
Then use the money you have just saved courtesy of the sackings and throw it at Peter V’Landys to entice him to come to Queensland for 5 years and turn it all around. Pay the man however much he wants, double it if it will keep him here for longer, give him one of the new apartment blocks that will be built at Eagle Farm if you have to, do whatever it takes.
Just get Vlandys up to the Pineapple State to save our industry and make it good again, because if you want to climb Everest and become Champions you need a leader who can show you how to run and jump and scale the heights and swim and win.
Right now Queensland racing is drowning, and the same people who are telling you they are going to pull us out are the same people who dragged us into the rip in the first place.
Queensland racing needs a hero.
Queensland racing needs a savior.
Queensland racing needs Peter Vlandys.
Editors note – A full copy of the Monteith Report can be accessed by clicking here