Resurfacing work is reported to be going well at Dundalk Stadium.
The all-weather track lost fixtures in 2019 due to concerns over the quality of the racing surface. Remedial work carried out in August last year proved well received and when the 2020 fixture list was published it stated that Dundalk had committed to resurfacing the entire track following its spring season.
Subject to a resumption of racing in Ireland, Dundalk’s next official fixture is scheduled for July 12th, and the Co Louth venue could feasibly have an increased role to play as the year goes on if the flat season is extended.
Dundalk chief executive Jim Martin said: “We said that we would have it done by June 15th and are well on target for that so we can race on July 12th. The month period before starting racing here again will give everyone the chance to have a look and to have trial runs with horses galloping on it.
“This is the time of the year to get work done on all-weather tracks. It’s more pliable in the heat and easier to manage. It’s also easier to work longer days with the light, while if it’s wet the wax tightens up and it’s not as easy to work with.”
Martin continued: “We put 54 tonnes of fibre on the surface and everyone was very happy, including a number of all-weather track experts. We had a record number of runners per race after the work was done and, when you see Aidan (O’Brien) coming to gallop Group 1 horses and Derby winners, it speaks for itself.”
A decision to replace the surface had already been made prior to the remedial work, and Martin hopes more use can be made of Dundalk in the future.
He said: “We have 38 fixtures in the year and are the least used all-weather track in the world. If we did happen to get very wet weather later in the year from say October to December and the turf tracks got very soft, I could see a lot of trainers saying why don’t we race three times a week in Dundalk to give horses an opportunity to run.”
Ten meetings were held behind closed doors in Ireland last month before racing was suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic, with two of those fixtures taking place at Dundalk.
Martin said: “The meetings we held behind closed doors went very well. We had cleaners in wiping everything down both before and during racing. People were keeping their social distance, and everyone took the protocols very seriously.
“It is very hard to see 30,000 people in Galway at the end of July, but it is the same for every sport. Numbers will have to be restricted while this situation continues.
“It would be great to get back to normal, but at the moment just to get back racing is the first step. We lost a meeting in March and four in April, so hopefully we will be back racing for our fixture on July 12th.”