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Image: Darren Winningham

The new Eagle Farm track surface could be ready to have its first test with horses galloping on it within weeks.

Tentative plans have also been made for Group One racing at Eagle Farm next winter with the races to be spaced over a fortnight rather than back-to-back.

Eagle Farm has been out of operation for most of the past four years because of problems with the re-laying of the track surface.

The Brisbane Racing Club and Racing Queensland have conducted several industry members’ inspections of the track in the past fortnight.

RQ chief executive Brendan Parnell said he was pleased to see the track progressing towards a return to racing but nothing would be rushed.

“Racing will return to Eagle Farm only once rigorous testing, gallops and trials are conducted,” Parnell said.

“However, work is progressing on a time-frame for a return to racing and we are hopeful to have horses gallop on the track within four to six weeks to test the effects of hoof penetration on the racing surface.”

BRC general manager of racing, Matt Rudolph, was also cautious but hopeful and stressed the need to monitor the recovery of Eagle Farm once racing resumed.

“A big focus of this track will be its recovery so we can ascertain early how many races and meetings we can run here,” he said.

“For next year’s Brisbane Racing Carnival, we’ll be looking at running the Group One races at Eagle Farm at fortnightly intervals, allowing a nice break into the Stradbroke meeting. That will ensure the track is at its best for our premier meeting.”

RQ’s senior track specialist Mick Goodie, who has been overseeing the work, said the growing season had started, which was the best time of year for the track.

“The track is improving by the day. It has improved immensely in the last few weeks,”Goodie said.

Goodie said tests conducted last Friday showed pleasing sod strength, an average root depth of 125mm ascertained from samples taken at eight points around the track, and grass leaf length of 65mm.

“We’re happy with what we’re seeing. Once we have sand-profile tracks right, they are excellent to race on. They race consistently and they race fairly,” he said.

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