TEST: Jockeys, stewards, trainers and officials inspect the track after it was closed in October.TOMORROW is D-Day for the Newcastle Jockey Club.
Champion Jockey Robert Thompson and NSW’s chief steward, Ray Murrihy, will be part of a delegation that will decide the immediate future of Newcastle racing tomorrow morning.
Thompson will travel down from his base at Cessnock to be part of the first trackwork session on the refurbished course proper at Broadmeadow.
Three sets of two-horse gallops will be held from 9am.
If the track gets the thumbs-up, three full barrier trials will be held on the course proper on Monday.
If it does not pass muster, it is unlikely that the club’s lucrative Boxing Day meeting will go ahead.
The 110-year-old track was closed by Racing NSW on October 20 after it was deemed unsafe for racing due to undulations in the surface and a reverse camber on the home turn.
A total of 20,000 square metres of turf has been laid from about the 1200m mark to 100m before the finishing post.
Work began on October 25 and the last turf was laid in the shute for the 900m start on November 5.
Thompson and leading Newcastle jockey Andrew Gibbons will take charge of horses chosen to work on the course proper.
Apprentice Blake Spriggs and trackwork riders Cameren Swan and Shane Treweek, both of whom were former successful jockeys, will also take part.
Newcastle’s big three from the training ranks – Paul Perry, Kris Lees and Darren Smith – have agreed to provide horses for the gallop session.
Racing NSW chief steward Murrihy will head a team of experts travelling from Sydney to watch the gallops and inspect the track.
Course manager of Broadmeadow Leigh Murrell said that he ‘‘could not be happier with the way grass has responded’’.
‘‘The root depth is where we want it,’ Murrell declared.
’The rain that we received recently has helped but of course we would have loved some real hot weather during the day as well.
’Really it is hard to tell where the old grass ends and the new grass starts.’
Lees said he was looking forward to seeing how horses galloped over the new course.
’I have walked the new ground, even tried to kick up a divot but the turf seems well laid,’ Lees said.
’It looks fantastic and it will now be just a matter of seeing how horses go on it at a fast pace.
’The club has asked Robbie Thompson to come down and I will have him on some of mine.
’There could be no better bloke to tell us how a track is.’
Darren Smith will not be on hand to watch the gallops.
Smith is preparing his sprinter Atomic Force for a crack at the $200,000 group 1 Railway Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie in New Zealand on New Year’s Day and will be watching him trial at Warwick Farm
’After the trial I might ask the NJC if Atomic Force can gallop on the Broadmeadow course proper next week,’ Smith said.
Atomic Force will then go to New Zealand on December 21.
Following their inspection of Broadmeadow Murrihy and his team will head to Cessnock.
They will inspect the Cessnock course to see if it is fit for racing there on Friday.
The Cessnock track has been inundated by rain.