A world-class grandstand and a repositioned, wider track with a longer home straight are centrepieces of a plan to secure the Moonee Valley Racing Club’s (MVRC) iconic Moonee Ponds home for future generations and reinvigorate thoroughbred racing at the Valley.
MVRC has today released a draft of a Master Plan that will act as a blueprint for development at the 40-hectare site over the next 15-20 years.
Under the plan, the grandstand would be relocated to the site’s northern boundary, overlooking the reconfigured track. To fund this, less than a quarter of the site (8 hectares) would be redeveloped for residential and commercial use, transforming the car park on the western boundary into a vibrant inner-urban precinct.
The draft’s release coincides with an extensive community consultation the club has initiated. MVRC has invited Moonee Ponds residents and traders to Open House information sessions to learn more about the proposals.
Key Racing Features
· A new four-tier grandstand with capacity for up to 10,000 spectators;
· Site capacity of comfortably holding crowds of up to 40,000 on W.S. Cox Plate Day;
· A new grass track utilising contemporary innovations for water sustainability;
· Extended home straight to 317 metres and increased track width to 30 metres;
· Provision for key race distances of 1200, 1600, 2040, 2400 and 3000 metres;
· New infield stripping stalls, with a tunnel through to the mounting yard;
· Greater use of the infield for car parking;
· Efficient, state-of-the-art lighting; and
· Potential for up to 30 night race meetings annually.
Key Non-Racing Features
· Provision for up to 2500 world-class townhouse and apartment-style dwellings over 15-20 years;
· Affordable housing provision;
· Enhancement of the Moonee Ponds area with new and improved facilities and amenities;
· Improved community services;
· A modern community function centre; and
· Secure employment in construction jobs and, long-term, in commercial, retail and other sectors.
Upon having planning approvals, the club plans to start track construction immediately after the 2016 W.S. Cox Plate and re-open the following August so that it will not lose continuity of staging its premier race.
The MVRC would conduct its meetings at other Victorian race tracks during the approximate 10 months of building the new track.
The redevelopment would lead to more race meetings and benefit the industry through increased wagering levels with owners, trainers and jockeys earning greater prizemoney.
MVRC Chairman Bob Scarborough said the purpose-built venue would deliver up to 40 meetings a year and hold crowds of 40,000 comfortably, particularly on feature race days.
“We will be seeking to enhance the on-course experience through our track reconfiguration and spectators in our new state-of-the-art grandstand will be significantly closer to the racing action,” Mr Scarborough said.
“They will have greater lines of sight of the race track, a closer position to the horses at the furthest point in the back straight and a backdrop of the Melbourne city skyline. There will be sufficient seating for both members and the public.
“The venue will be more of an amphitheatre and will enhance the unique atmosphere already enjoyed at the course.
“MVRC will use modern technology for our track design, irrigation and drainage with innovations for water sustainability and a lighting system that provides a more efficient network and with reduced power usage.
“Our focus is on building a world-class night racing venue. Most of our meetings would be on Friday nights and the racing product would be exported to international markets through television and other electronic sources.”
Mr Scarborough said the race track will have a new grass surface and its width will be increased from 24 metres to 30 metres. The track circumference will reduce by 103 metres to 1702 metres and the club will have greater flexibility in scheduling races over all key distances from 1000 metres to 3000 metres.
“Regardless of our redevelopment plans, the track needs to be replaced within the next five to seven years, so these significant works will ensure we have a safe and high-quality surface on which to stage metropolitan race meetings,” he said.
The east-west facing home straight will be 317 long compared to its current distance of 173 metres – the shortest run home in Australian racing.
“The extension of the track width is important as it will allow for more rail movements and enable us to have bigger fields of starters as the rail is moved out,” Mr Scarborough said.
“We are restricted to 10 runners when the rail is out seven metres, but with the new track we could run capacity fields when the rail is out 10 metres or more.
“Maximum field limits will improve our wagering returns and the opportunities for owners, trainers and jockeys to win more prize money.”
He said the new track cambers will improve safety by placing less stress on horses when fully exerted and reduce track bias by providing each starter with the chance to run up to their ability despite their position in running.
The course will have a remodelled infield that will incorporate a horse float park, pedestrian access, horse stalls and pre-parade ring and a tunnel under the track leading to the mounting yard. Car parking would also be within the infield.
Click here to view the MVRC Master Plan.