Course Proper Reconstruction

The Thoroughbred Park course proper was first raced on  Saturday 6 October 2007 following completion of stage two of the track and training facilities upgrade.

The new course proper is one of the most modern racetracks in Australia and was designed to provide the highest level of safety on a surface that delivers highly competitive and bias free racing.  To ensure these outcomes the track has been reshaped to provide improved camber through the turns.  A new irrigation and drainage system was installed , the highest quality materials were used and Australia’s foremost racetrack consultants were utilized on the project.

Turf Course Turf Course

Vital Course Proper Statistics and Construction Information

Track Statistics:

1815 metres in circumference, 25 metres wide with a total area of 64,000 square metres.  The turns are cambered to 5%, the back straight camber is 2.5% and the main straight camber is 1.5%. The home straight is 400 metres long.


Eighteen kilometres of subsoil drains have been installed across the entire width of the course, spaced 3 metres apart.  The subsoil drains are connected into the storm water system and return excess water to the water storage dams for reuse as irrigation.

Soil Profile:

The soil profile is a mix of sand and loam with a 10 to 1 ratio of sand to loam and is made up of washed and screened sand and loam. The soil was sourced from Braidwood and 36,000 tonnes of soil was delivered to the site at the rate of ten truckloads a day over eight weeks.

 Seed Mix:

The track was sown initially with kentucky bluegrass and over sown with rye grass in February 2007.  The track was not raced on until October  of 2007 to allow  consolidation and binding of the root system to ensure the surface could sustain horse racing without excessive damage to the surface and to ensure a first class racing surface for years to come.

Irrigation System:

A fully automated irrigation system was installed which allows off course operation via the Race Course Manager's lap top computer and the underground infrastructure includes  5 kilometres of pipes and 180 sprinkler heads.

Moisture Sensors:

Moisture sensors were installed to assist in monitoring the moisture levels and are connected to the Racecourse Manager’s central control computer and provide both moisture and temperature readings.

Design Consultants:

Canberra firm Cardno Young Pty Ltd provided design work and project management.  Cardno Young are experienced in racetrack design and construction management having been involved with Flemington, Moonee Valley and Randwick racecourse reconstruction.


The contractor for the project was Guideline ACT, one of Canberra’s major earth moving contractors.

Turf Consultants:

The turf consultant was John Neylan from Victorian based AGCSATech (Australian Golf Course Superintendents Association), a group experienced in racecourse turf requirements.

Water Supply & Water Storage Dams:

Three interconnected water storage dams have been constructed to collect excess irrigation water, storm water and run off.  Both dams are connected to a pumping station and at full capacity, without on going top ups, contain enough water for three months of watering.

Storm Water:

An extensive storm water system has been installed to collect run off from almost all of Thoroughbred Park, including the Acton Track, course proper subsoil and surface drainage, as well as storm water runoff from most buildings.  The storm water system is connected to the storage dams for recycling.

Ambulance Track:

A road has been installed between the Acton Track and the course proper specifically to provide all weather access by the course Ambulance, Veterinary Surgeon, Starting Stewards and Barrier Attendants.  This road provides quick access to both tracks and eliminates damage to either track caused by vehicles on the racing surfaces.

Stewards Towers:

Two additional steward and filming towers were installed as part of the project bringing the total number of steward’s towers to six.  This ensures stewards have total viewing and filming coverage of the course to assist the steward’s panel in carrying out their duties.


All steward towers are connected by underground conduit and wiring back to the video production unit for efficient production of stewards film requirements and innovative on and off course broadcasting.

Project Cost:

$4.5 million plus GST

The revolutionary synthetic track at Thoroughbred Park

In November 2004 construction of the synthetic track at Thoroughbred Park Canberra was completed and the track opened for track work and barrier trials. The track was first used for racing at the Canberra Cup race meeting in October 2005 when the last two races on the program were transferred from the course proper to the Acton Track due to the state of the track following rain. 

On Friday 12 May 2006 the Club staged its first full race meeting on the Acton Track

The track was installed by Racing Victoria under the brand name Thorough Track as part of stage one of a two stage redevelopment of Thoroughbred Park.  The track was installed at a cost of $2.25 million.

The track replaced an existing sand track, which required realignment to ensure the suitability for conducting race meetings on the synthetic track.  Initial works involved the construction of the road base and drainage.  The base comprises of a solid crushed rock composition and includes two drainage lines around the circumference of the course.  To contain the synthetic surface both the inside and outside are bordered by concrete strips with the inside border having weep holes to allow the track to drain freely.  See below for vital information on the Acton Track.

Vital Information and Statistics

Track Statistics

  • Width 15 metres
  • Diameter 1620 metres
  • Home straight 380 metres
  • Cambered surface – 3% cross fall in the straight which transitions to a maximum of 5% on the turns.
  • Depth of synthetic material 100mm
  • Plastic running rail installed 2012

Installation Costs

  • Base and drainage $1m
  • Synthetic material $1.2
  • Break up the synthetic material costs: Petroleum Wax $455,000, Elastic Fibre $368,000, Asphalt plant, production delivery and laying $342,000, sand $94,000.

Racing Statistics

As a racing surface the track has proven to be safe, bias free and provides consistent racing relative to form. As at December 2012 there have been 448 races conducted on the Acton Track with 4,639 starters and approximately 233,000  horses have work on the track in track work sessions 6 days per week. Detailed statistics are available for both the Acton Track and Course Proper under the track Statistics heading in the racing drop down menu.

Synthetic Material

The synthetic surface comprises a mix of sand, petroleum wax and polymer fibre, which combine to form a surface that is consistent and at the same time provides a cushioning affect when horses work or race on the track.  The track performs at its best at temperatures below 22c.  At these temperatures the surface retains its consistency with very little kick back.  At higher temperatures the track tends to become softer creating the effect of a lower track rating. The synthetic material was refurbished in April 2012. 

All Weather Surface

The track has proven to be very popular with trainers for track work purposes in all temperatures and is used for this purpose 6-days per week.  In addition jump outs and barrier trials are held on this track regardless of the temperature and weather conditions.  From a track work point of view the track can definitely be considered as an all weather surface.  From a racing point of view the track can be raced on in all weather conditions however in hot conditions the track becomes softer and creates racing conditions similar to rained effected ratings on traditional turf tracks. 


The track is low maintenance track.  The daily maintenance program includes application of a track groom and rolling and removing horse waste.  Approximately once per month the track is power raked to ensure a consistent depth is maintained for the width of the track.  The track does not require any watering.  Originally it was thought water would sheet off the wax based track however it has been found the track does absorb moisture however this has not proved to be detrimental for track work or racing and does not create kick back of any significance and does not have the same affect as it does with traditional turf tracks.  Since the installation in 2004 the track has be re waxed in April 2007 and refurbished in April 2012 which involved replenishment of elastic synthetic fibre, sand and petroleum wax. 


Since racing commenced in May 2006 until April 2010 there has been one horse which did not complete the course due to breakdown and the jockey was dislodged, this occurred on 12 August 2010 a Goulburn transferred race meeting  there have been no other race falls.  Stewards Reports indicate that the level of interference is less on this track and  jockeys tend to maintain their line and horses do not move about as much as seems to be the case on turf tracks, this is possibly due to the consistency of the course across the whole width of the track.  The reason for this is unclear and at this point there is no scientific research to support this view. 


When regular race meetings commenced in 2006 there was reduction in betting turnover on the meetings, which gradually improved to a point where turnover was surpassing average winter turnover on the Canberra turf track. Turnover in subsequent years surpasses averages associated with winter turf track racing.