Track in good condition for meeting

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The fine weather spell which hit the region over the last two weeks has worked wonders for the Oamaru Racecourse.

It has dried out the track enough for The Winter Oamaru Cup Day to go ahead on July 20.

The racecourse used to be the driest in the South Island until a few years ago, when it was irrigated because the track was too hard for the horses.

However, wet weather during April, May and June forced the cancellation of an Oamaru Jockey Club race meeting last month due to concerns regarding the underfoot conditions of the track.

It was the second race meeting to be cancelled since last year for the same reason, Oamaru Racecourse track manager Greg Stuart said.

“If they hadn’t irrigated it a couple of years ago and kept it hard, then the track would have handled the large amounts of rain sufficiently.”

While the dry weather helped, it wasn’t entirely what they required.

“Yes, the dry weather we have had lately is good, but we have lacked the northerly winds and decent heat in the sun, but the track is a lot drier than it was a couple of weeks ago.”

The track is not dry completely, but there is now enough of a dry area to run a successful meeting.

“There are now five metres of dry area right around the track so we can hold races. The odd spot is still soft, but nothing like it was,” he said.

With the Oamaru Jockey Club Winter Festival just around the corner, it was important the track conditions were of an acceptable standard.

“We needed to get the track to an acceptable standard and feel we have done this with the recent spell of good weather. The track is at a slow 9 or 10, but will hopefully be a bit higher come race day,” Mr Stuart said.

By BRAYDEN LINDSAY