Imagine hundreds of women in high heels walking on the outside track

THE Shoalhaven City Turf Club’s Archer Raceway surface is attracting some of the top Sydney trainers and their horses.

That is set to continue with the local club receiving a state government Community Building Partnerships grant to purchase a $56,500 Redexim Verti-Drain 2200 machine.

The Verti-Drain machine, which is towed behind a tractor, has 20 16-inch tines that are driven into the ground, breaking up track compaction, while aerating and allowing for better drainage.

The machine has been likened to having hundreds of women in high heels walking around the course.

The club received $28,292 from the government’s program towards the purchase of the machine.

South Coast MP Shelley Hancock said under the program $300,000 had been allocated to the local electorate.

“We had $3 million worth of applications and it was a tough job going through and assessing all the applications and deciding what project we could support,” she said.

Turf club chairman Michael Martin said the Verti-Drain would be a great benefit for the club.

“With 700-plus kilogram horses running on the track it quickly compacts the soil,” Mr Martin said.

“At Nowra, especially the outside edge of the track which is used constantly for track work, compacts very quickly.

“This machine will allow us to regenerate and break up the soil which will produce a better surface for horses and trainers.”

After the wet weather the area received last week, race track manager Chris Nation said he could have used the Verti-Drain machine in the lead-up to Monday’s meeting, which had to be cancelled due to the condition of the track and the forecast of more rain.

“If I had it we would have been out on it all week,” he said.

“With the ground soft after the rain it is the ideal time to use it.

“The track has a shale and clay base and holds water under the surface. If we had the machine we could have released some of that built up water which would have quickly improved the running surface and its rating.”

Mr Nation said the machine would lead to the continued improvement of the Nowra surface.

“With our heavy surface I will probably do about three to four full track renovations a year with the new machine,” he said.

“We can probably do the outside of the track every three or four weeks, which will just make it so much better.”

The club previously hired the machine, which would cost $10,000 per visit.

At one stage Racing NSW entered into an agreement with a company that visited each track twice a year, using Verti-Drain machines.

“That was a free service under the contract, but when that wasn’t renewed it reverted back to the clubs to find the funds to pay for that hiring,” said turf club chief executive officer Lynn Locke.

“At $10,000 a use, we can pay for this machine in a year or two.”

The club also plans to hire the machine to fellow South Coast clubs, Moruya and Sapphire.

“It’s a win-win for everyone. We’ve got the machine on site, we can use it when we want and we can also hire it out and recoup some of our costs,” Mrs Locke said.

Using the machine is a slow process; it only covers 900m an hour, meaning it takes more than two hours to do one complete circuit of the 2000m Archer layout.

“It will take a couple of days to completely do the whole track,” Mr Nation said.

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