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Image: Steve Hart

The best track Sydney has to offer is fast becoming one of the more concerning issues for racing in NSW.

Randwick sits alone as the best track in Sydney when right, but Chelmsford Stakes Day on Saturday confirmed what a few smart judges have been saying for months, even over a year: Something is wrong with the track and how it’s presented.

It had been just under two weeks since significant rain had hit the course, with 0.2mm the last seven days leading into Saturday, and no irrigation. So with that, combined with wind, you would expect the track to be a Good 3, a firm side of Good 4 at worst, right?

Wrong. It went up a Soft 5.

I almost choked on my bacon and eggs on Sunday morning when reading an article, suggesting that the track was in pristine condition. If that track is going to be classed as pristine, then you may as well as say the West Tigers defensive effort on Sunday against the Bulldogs was pristine.

I then almost choked on my coffee when reading more, and it was said that a leading trainer was questioning why Randwick can’t be used more as Covid restrictions ensures the other metro tracks in Sydney are out of use until restrictions ease.

The metropolitan tracks in Melbourne are playing beautifully. Despite rain, Moonee Valley was a big tick on Saturday, and the last 12-18 months, perhaps more, Flemington and Caulfield have been just about perfect.

This isn’t the first time this issue at Randwick has been raised. You only have to wind back the clock to Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day. Near 30 degree days throughout the week leading in, a Good4 on Friday, a fine day on the cards for race day at just under 20 degrees…but 2mm of irrigation was applied and it raced like a Soft 6/7, which allowed the likes of Addeybb and Nettoyer, noted wet trackers, to win Group l races.

So, what’s the solution? The suggestion that Randwick should take a bigger workload…I’ll let that go through to the keeper. But I will say that if indeed it does take on more meetings, what condition will the track be come October with ‘Super Saturday’ followed by The Everest, the showpiece event of racing in the state that could be a potential embarrassment unless things improve.

A dry track at Kembla Grange and it’s ideal. But if you sneeze on it, it becomes a nightmare. I think most would agree that, from a betting perspective, and participant point of view, the best track in the state, quite clearly, is Newcastle. But with their big Cup Day on the horizon, it won’t be used before then. Could you shift a meeting or two there post Cup Day? Potentially.

But the situation at Randwick and how it’s prepared for big race days needs urgent attention because in a seemingly never ending battle with the ‘Mexicans’, they are the ones sipping Pina Colada’s while Randwick is getting caught in the rain.

 
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