Greenwattle to remain green

GREENWATTLE Racecourse in Sale is a step closer to receiving an automated irrigation system thanks to a $700,000 investment from Racing Victoria and the State Government.

Sale Turf Club will contribute $70,000 to the project with the government providing $350,000 and Racing Victoria $280,000 in a move described on Friday by Gippsland South MLA and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan as necessary to keep the club “ahead of the game”.

“The new system will increase efficiency, reduce water wastage, deliver consistent irrigation across the width of the course and apply sufficient water volume during night hours,” Mr Ryan said.

“Overnight watering is one of the most efficient ways of keeping racecourses in prime condition because evaporation is at its lowest and the wind has less impact.”

The upgrade will include the replacement of the current, labour-intensive, towline with a fully automated pop-up irrigation system and pumping plant making it easier to produce a consistent racing surface throughout the year, especially during the busy autumn and spring periods.

Country Racing Victoria chief executive Scott Whiteman said he was looking forward to the improvements.

“Sale is one of the most important country venues as it delivers very strong results in racing and wagering, as well as being a training centre,” he said.

“The upgrade will ensure that Sale retains its position as a market leader.”

Mr Ryan said Sale Turf Club’s racing schedule had drastically increased, with the club now hosting more than 20 meetings annually, which, he said, highlighted the need for improved irrigation.

“The Sale Turf Club is highly regarded by racehorse trainers as one of regional Victoria’s best tracks,” Mr Ryan said.

“Many of the top trainers from Melbourne see Sale as a high quality, reliable and safe track to race some of their best young horses.”

In the past two years, Mr Ryan said, the State Government had provided Racing Victoria and the Sale Turf Club with $493,985 for five racing and training infrastructure projects, including new starting and practice gates, track draining works and perimeter fencing.

Sale Turf Club vice-president John Duncan said the club was grateful to the State Government for providing it with the ability to complete the final step towards drought-proofing the racecourse.

“We have the water available, and now, we will have the means to deliver it efficiently,” he said.