Case IH has supplied four new tractors – three Maxxum 125s and a Puma 165X – to Southwell Racecourse in Nottinghamshire for the upkeep of its new all-weather Tapeta track.
Four tractors may seem excessive for a one-and-a-quarter mile oval with a surface area of fewer than 10 acres, but the artificial track – a mixture of fine silica sand, wax and fibres that simulate the root structure of turf – has extremely specific management requirements. Before every race, the three Maxxum tractors simultaneously pull specialist Gallop Master cultivators around the track to produce a consistent racing surface.
“The new Case IH tractors are an important addition to our track maintenance regime,” Southwell’s trainee clerk of the course, David Attwood, said. “Their primary focus is the upkeep and presentation of our newly installed Tapeta track. Given the number of fixtures and magnitude of runners, it’s essential that the track is maintained regularly to a high standard to ensure participant safety and fairness of performance.
“Routine maintenance between the majority of race meetings consists of cultivating the track to a depth of 10cm. The Case IH tractors provide the necessary horsepower to really aggravate the material and ensure freshness of the racing surface. Following this, a large roller is applied before the Gallop Master machine is run through the top surface to provide the racing finish. To maintain a consistent surface, we pull three gallop masters simultaneously with a slight overlap on each machine.
“On race day, the track has a final gallop master finish to ensure everything is smooth, with time very much of the essence,” Mr Attwood added. “Using three tractors for this process ensures the race days go smoothly. In between races and stall movements, the trio of Case IH Maxxums is used to prepare the surface to ensure wheel markings and hoofprints are eradicated. With 30-minute gaps between races, it doesn’t leave much time for this to be completed to a safe and high standard.
“Further maintenance is undertaken approximately once a month. The track is ripped to a depth of 20cm, which takes considerable horsepower. The track is then rotavated, power harrowed and then rolled. Having the four Case IH tractors means that once the initial ripping process has begun, steps two, three and four can begin in relay, considerably reducing the time for this process, which is important considering the limited time between fixtures in the winter.”