Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has announced a $3.2 million upgrade

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has announced a $3.2 million upgrade to bring Sandown Racecourse back to top condition, reports Racing Victoria.

It says: Dr Napthine said the replacement of the course proper would ensure that Sandown continued to be a premium metropolitan venue for thoroughbred racing.

“The current surface has been down for almost thirty years and over the past couple of years has struggled to provide a consistent racing surface for the Lakeside and Hillside tracks,” Dr Napthine said.

The unsuitable track conditions have resulted in a number of meetings scheduled at Sandown being transferred or abandoned over the past two seasons.

“With Sandown conducting up to 30 race meetings each year, this upgrade will re-establish Sandown Racecourse as a first-class track and restore confidence in the course’s racing conditions,” Dr Napthine said.

With a new high quality racing surface, Sandown will provide Victoria’s racing industry with another venue to conduct trials for both flat and jumps racing.

This vital project for the Melbourne Racing Club will provide a boost for East Gippsland with the turf being grown at Lilydale Turf’s farm at Lindenow South, near Bairnsdale.

The Victorian Government has allocated $500,000 for the project through the Victorian Racing Industry Fund. The Melbourne Racing Club will be contributing $1.6 million and Racing Victoria is providing a further $1.1 million towards the project.

Racing Victoria Chief Executive Officer, Bernard Saundry, welcomed the Premier’s announcement and commitment to racing in Victoria.

“The course proper turf replacement is an important project which will greatly improve the integrity of the surface and the Melbourne Racing Club’s ability to deliver an optimum and safe racing surface for all participants,” Saundry said.

“Sandown is a key metropolitan venue hosting more meetings than any other turf track in the state and the benefits of this upgrade will flow across the industry with the venue better placed to host trials and transferred meetings if required after the completion of the works.

“We thank the Coalition Government for its ongoing commitment to Victorian racing, particularly its investment in racecourses.”

Mike Symons, Chairman of Melbourne Racing Club, said the club was delighted to be able to proceed with the turf refurbishment at Sandown.

“Sandown is the workhorse of the Victorian thoroughbred racing industry, holding the most meetings of any metropolitan track,” Mr Symons said.

“Thanks to the VRIF Funding and Government support, the new track will provide a more even racing surface far better able to cope with the heavy workload, particularly during the winter months.”

Dr Napthine said the multi-million-dollar upgrade was a vote of confidence in the importance of Sandown Racecourse.

“Sandown is the home of jumps racing in Melbourne and a major metropolitan racing venue, and it hosts a number of key events each year, including the Grand Nationals and the Sandown Classic, which this year will be run at Caulfield due to the turf works,” Dr Napthine said.

“The Victorian Government is proud to support this project through the $79.5 million Victorian Racing Industry Fund, which is dedicated to improving racing and training facilities across Victoria,” Dr Napthine said.

The works at Sandown are expected to commence in September with the laying of the turf scheduled for November this year and racing is set to resume in early 2014.