By Chris Scholtz
Albury’s newly reconstructed course proper had its first test under race conditions on Saturday with the staging of a five-race meeting. The course underwent a $1.2 million renovation after last year’s Albury Cup carnival with new turf, drainage, irrigation and cambers all part of the project.
Officials and jockeys were delighted with the new surface under race conditions with the only obvious sign of the recent works being some sand kick-back.
Southern Districts chief steward John Davidson said the meeting met Racing NSW expectations and should be in good condition for the first TAB meeting featuring the $150,000 Country Championships Qualifier on March 19,
The March 19 meeting is the first day of the split 2017 Albury Cup Carnival with the rich Commercial Club Albury Gold Cup meeting following five days later on March 24.
“The feedback from riders was reasonably positive,” Davidson told the Border Mail. “The track was safe but obviously we had smaller fields. It will be a much bigger test when we have fields of 16 and eight races over the carnival.”
Top Canberra jockey Brendan Ward rode in three races on Saturday and said the track was safe. The Albury Cup Carnival countdown kicks off this week with the annual sporting luncheon at the Albury Commercial Club on Friday featuring retired champion jockey Jim Cassidy as guest speaker.
While this year’s carnival has been split by the decision to run the first day on March 19, Cup Week will still feature the Albury Cup barrier draw at the Commercial Club on Wednesday March 22 and the Albury Cup Calcutta and Call of the Card at the Commercial Club on the night of Thursday March 23.