Arena Racing Company (“ARC”) have submitted a planning application to replace the fibresand surface at Southwell Racecourse with Tapeta. Subject to planning permission, it is anticipated that the work will start in the spring, and be completed by summer 2021.
The fibresand surface that is currently at Southwell has been in place since the inception of all-weather racing at the track in 1989 but, despite numerous renewals, has come to the end of its operational life.
The world leading Tapeta surface, developed by Michael Dickinson and Joan Wakefield of Tapeta Footings, has been in place at ARC racecourses Wolverhampton and Newcastle since 2014 and 2016 respectively. Tapeta is also used at other racecourses and training centres around the world, including Presque Isle Downs, Golden Gate Fields and the newly installed Turfway Park in the USA as well as Woodbine in Canada.
The installation of Tapeta represents a further investment in the future of the racing facilities at Southwell, following the construction of state-of-the-art LED floodlights in 2019 and the development of a flood alleviation scheme to protect the racecourse.
ARC Chief Executive, Martin Cruddace, said, “Racing at both Wolverhampton and Newcastle has benefitted hugely from the installation of Tapeta, as we have worked closely with Michael Dickinson, Joan Wakefield and their team on the maintenance and upkeep of both surfaces.
“Tapeta represents the next generation of artificial all-weather racing surface, in terms of its appeal to both trainers and jockeys, and it offers a number of benefits regarding its safety record, relative lack of kickback and fairness for horses. In addition, it has the ability to handle very low temperatures and significant rainfall.
“The installation of Tapeta will give us an opportunity to look at the flat programme at Southwell and possibly introduce some Fast Track Qualifier races for the All-Weather Championships, for example. This work represents another significant step forward for racing at Southwell, which we intend to be one of the finest all-weather tracks in the world.”
Trainer John Gosden commented, “I am delighted that ARC has chosen to make this investment in such difficult times. I have always thought that Newcastle is the best all-weather track in the UK because of its configuration and surface.
“The Tapeta surface is both safe and true and Southwell’s configuration is akin to many of the top racecourses in the USA. It will greatly benefit from the switch to Tapeta and I look forward to having many runners there”
Trainer Mark Johnston commented, “This is fantastic news. Southwell is faultless in terms of scale and layout and, with a Tapeta surface, it can be an all-weather racetrack of the highest international standard”
Southwell Racecourse was scheduled to host 46 flat fixtures in 2020 (including 18 evening fixtures under floodlights), with racehorse trainer Scott Dixon also based at the track.