Murray Bridge Racing Club is about to take another step towards becoming an elite training facility, with work commencing on its $500,000 uphill sand training track.
The track will be just over 800m long and contain one bend, plus a gradient of between 2.5 per cent and 6 per cent.
The new facility will be a major boost to local trainers, according to club secretary/manager John Buhagiar.
“Last year we visited some training centres in Victoria and had a look at the benefits of uphill sand track training,” Mr Buhagiar said.
“The benefits are not just cardiovascular fitness, which improves strength in the hindquarters. It’s also beneficial to all gaits, so you can work horses up there whether you’re walking, trotting or cantering.
“It helps horses that need strengthening in the legs, if they’re coming back from injury, for example, but there are other benefits too.
“For horses that are asymmetrical, it encourages strength in weaker limbs.
“The other benefit is that it’s something different to the horse. It will help keep horses mentally stimulated from the day-to-day routine of working on the track.
“So there are a lot of benefits in it.”
The racing club recently received development approval from the Rural City of Murray Bridge to proceed with the track, and irrigation works have already began at the site, which is located just west of the horse stalls.
“We had the irrigation pipe delivered on course and trenching has started,” Mr Buhagiar said.
“We’ve ordered running rail and we’re getting some of the other fencing come in.”
Importantly, work on the facility will benefit the Murray Bridge community.
“A local business has won the job,” Mr Buhagiar said. “So that’s very pleasing.”
Mr Buhagiar said legendary Australian trainers like Colin Hayes and George Hanlon were advocates of uphill tracks, as is current WA/Victorian trainer Lindsay Smith.
“Where once uphill training tracks were the privilege of private trainers, South Australian will now have an uphill track available for our trainers,” he said.
The development is being funded via $500,000 set aside for 10 projects across SA as part of the State Government’s $24 million racing-industry stimulus package, announced last year. The package also funded the Gawler and Barossa Jockey Club's game-changing $495,000 equine pool, which was officially opened in June.