NEW LOOK: Construction under way at Turffontien to improve the facilities. Pic. Unknown.
NEW LOOK: Construction under way at Turffontien to improve the facilities. Pic. Unknown.

Work is under way on two more key projects to revitalise race day at the Turffontein Racecourse.

Work is under way on two more key projects to revitalise race day at the Turffontein Racecourse.

A new parade ring is being constructed in front of the grandstand and a three-tier deck is being installed on the first level of the stands.

The parade ring and winner's enclosure at the back of the grandstand have long been a negative factor at Turffontein because they have divorced many racegoers from much of the between-races activity and excitement.

In its new position the parade ring will transform going to the races at Phumelela's flagship racecourse.

Horses will continue to be saddled in the holding boxes behind the grandstand and will then be led by their grooms along a new walkway past the fish pond in front of the weighing room, under the grandstand and into the parade ring.

Enclosures for the first three finishers are one of the features of the new state-of-the-art parade ring, which will also have a rail on the inside of the horse path to reduce the risk of people being injured by a loose or fractious horse.

Once it is operational the winner, second and third-placed runners will return to the ring to be unsaddled in their enclosures, while the other runners will use the existing chute beyond the winning post to return to the old parade ring.

The riders of the first three runners home in races will be weighed in the new ring, which also features a podium for television interviews and presentations.

The overall impact of walking the runners under the grandstand into the new ring and putting the parade ring and winner's enclosure excitement in front of racegoers will add a new dimension to the races.

And there will be no better place on a warm day to enjoy the new layout than from the three-tier restaurant deck that is being constructed.

The deck will be utilised as an outdoor restaurant, where customers can wine and dine in comfort and experience all the excitement in comfort, while being shielded from sun and rain by the grandstand roof.

The parade ring is expected to be ready for the November Handicap Charity Mile meeting on 1 November 1, while the decking will be operational by the Steinhoff Summer Cup meeting on November 29.

Robert Garner, Phumelela's general manager marketing and communications, said: "Collectively these projects will put the majesty and excitement of thoroughbred horse-racing under everybody's noses and totally transform racing at Turffontein.

"The new parade ring and decking, plus the piazza and one-stop betting hall on the second level of the grandstand completed earlier this year, are elements of a strategy to enhance the race-day experience and to transform Turffontein into a multi-dimensional destination.

"Phumelela and the Racing Association consulted with all role players in planning the new parade ring and walkway.

Special mention must be made of horse-racing executive Patrick Davis and Racing Association chairman and chief executive Larry Wainstein and Clyde Basel.

Their enthusiasm and stamina has been boundless," said Garner.

Phumelela and the Racing Association, which represents racehorse owners in Phumelela regions, have been working together closely for months through a special committee comprising Wainstein, Basel, Davis, Garner and Phumelela event consultant Neil Smith.

Owners, trainers and jockeys should note that the existing winner's enclosure has been demolished to allow the new walkway into the parade ring to be constructed.

Consequently, a temporary winner's enclosure in the existing ring will be in operation from this Sunday's meeting.

Phumelela horse-racing executive Patrick Davis said: "This could not be avoided. We regret the inconvenience and ask everybody to bear with us."