THE man supervising Murray Bridge’s much-lauded race track will be charged with the responsibility of fixing Mount Gambier Racing Club’s troublesome surface.
A weed infestation impacting the track’s safety led to racing being temporarily suspended at the Glenburnie racecourse, which last hosted a meeting on June 14.
However – much to the delight of trainers – Dave Shepherdson will return to the city to resume the role of track manager on August 31.
Club general manager Brett Watson said Mr Shepherdson previously worked for the club in 2016/17, before being entrusted with the new Murray Bridge track at Gifford Hill.
The club hopes his appointment will ensure the surface is in first-class condition when racing returns.
“Murray Bridge gets rave reviews,” Mr Watson said.
“Shep has enjoyed successful stints there, at Gawler and with us and we were really happy with him when he worked for us previously.
“We were disappointed to see him go, so we’re rapt to get him back.”
Mr Watson said the appointment had been well received by the Limestone Coast racing fraternity.
“He’s very well respected around the industry,” Mr Watson said.
“The trainers are happy with the announcement and we have already had some positive feedback from them about the decision.”
The Mount Gambier track underwent a multi-million dollar redevelopment in 2018, before concerns with the surface led to the decision to suspend racing and devote appropriate time for effective regenerative treatment.
When suspending meetings at the track in June, Thoroughbred Racing South Australia chief executive Nick Redin said the surface was still young and needed to be preserved for the future.
“It’s far from an ideal situation, but the measures are in the best interests of the industry and its participants,” Mr Redin said.
Mr Watson conceded the new track manager had an important job in front of him.
“Shep will assess the track once he gets here,” he said.
“But we’ll get rid of all the dead thatch that’s there at the moment and free the kikuyu grass up,” he said.
While the running of the Scott Group of Companies Mount Gambier Gold Cup in December now appears unlikely, Mr Watson said the main focus was to give the track as much attention and care as it need to get it back up and running.
“The positive sign is we have actually scraped back some of the dead stuff that’s sitting there and there’s a good lot of kikuyu runners underneath there, ready to wake up.”
To support Mr Shepherdson with the de-thatching process, the club has purchased a new Amazone machine, which is expected to arrive in the coming days.