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‘Shep’ on track to take over at Mount Gambier

The man supervising Murray Bridge’s much-lauded race track will be responsible for fixing Mount Gambier Racing Club’s troublesome surface.

A weed infestation impacting the track’s safety has seen racing temporarily suspended at the club, which last hosted a meeting on June 14.

Dave Shepherdson starts as Mount Gambier track manager on August 31 and the club hopes his appointment will ensure the surface is in first-class condition when racing returns – probably in early 2021.

Club general manager Brett Watson said Mr Shepherdson previously worked for the club in 2016-17, before being entrusted with the new Murray Bridge track at Gifford Hill.

“Murray Bridge gets rave reviews,” Mr Watson said.

“‘Shep has enjoyed successful stints there, at Gawler, and with us, and we were really happy with him when he worked for us previously.

“We were disappointed to see him go, so we’re rapt to get him back.”

Mr Watson said the appointment had been well received by the local racing fraternity.

“He’s very well respected around the industry,” Mr Watson said.

“The trainers are happy with the announcement and we’ve already had some positive feedback from them about the decision.”

The Mount Gambier track underwent a multi-million dollar renovation in 2018, before concerns with the surface led to the decision to suspend racing and devote appropriate time for effective regenerative treatment.

Mr Watson conceded the new track manager had an important job in front of him.

“‘Shep’ will assess the track once he gets here,” he said.

“But we’ll get rid of all the dead thatch that’s there at the moment, and free the kikuyu grass up.

“The main thing is to give the track as much attention and care as it needs to get back up and running.

“The positive sign is that we’ve actually scraped back some of the dead stuff that’s sitting there, and there’s a good lot of kikuyu runners underneath there, ready to wake up.”

To assist Mr Shepherdson with the “de-thatching” process, the club has purchased a new Amazone machine.

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