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Townsville Turf Club in turmoil over track closure

Steve Bennett in News 11 Feb 2019
  • Townsville racing on hold due to flood damage
Townsville track submerged by floodwaters

The Townsville Turf Club (TTC) announced on Monday that their Cluden Park track will be closed indefinitely amid evidence of weed and insect infestation.

The city of Townsville has only just begun a massive clean-up operation after copping the worst floods on record and the Turf Club is located in the area that was hardest hit.

More than 1,200mm of rain fell on the city in a 10-day period, leaving close to 3,000 homes ravaged by floodwaters and the Cluden Park track suffered as well. 

Turf Club members were contacted on Monday night and told that the meeting set down for February 21 is ‘poised to be postponed to allow for track rehabilitation work’.

While the track itself held up quite well during the unprecedented event, the concern now is that of weed and insect infestation.

An inspection of the track soon after the floodwaters subsided detected some root growth issues and evidence of weed, seed and grub infestation.

Results of the initial inspection have led to the need for further testing relating to soil contamination, with samples to be sent to southern laboratories in the near future. 

These tests (obviously) require time which has put the Townsville racing calendar in turmoil until the results of said tests are received.

In the meantime, the TTC will carry out a spraying program to at least control the weed growth and grubs that were found.

TTC President Malcolm Petrofski was in high spirits after the first inspection of the track was conducted, stating that the track surface was in good order.

However, after a few days of hot and humid sunshine, the weed and grub infestation became apparent and the alarm bells began to ring, leaving the club with no choice but to take immediate action.

“A racing surface takes an incredible amount of fine-tuning to make it safe for our equine athletes; so any evidence of problems need to be nipped in the bud” Mr Petrofski said.   
“We are absolutely focused on nursing the track through this process carefully so that our Winter Carnival can continue as normal.”

The meeting set down for Tuesday, February 12 has already been transferred to Mackay and now the February 21 meeting is almost certain to be cancelled as well.

Racing Queensland are actively involved in the situation and will return to the Cluden Park track on Tuesday (Feb 12). 

In consideration of the time that will be necessary for the further testing to be carried out, and the outcome of these tests, it is possible that racing in Townsville could be on hold until April. 

“We are very disappointed with the delay, but the health of the racing surface is paramount,” Mr Petrofski said.  
“Any contamination caused by these unprecedented floods needs to be addressed now before it causes any long-term damage.”

A further update on the progress of the track is expected at the end of February.

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Townsville Turf Club in turmoil over track closure

The Townsville Turf Club (TTC) announced on Monday that their Cluden Park track will be closed indefinitely amid evidence of weed and insect infestation.

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