The Groundsman

March 2016

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Visit for more information and digital editions IOG BEST PRACTICE 17 the Groundsman March 2016 be in addition to the team's training in, fi rst aid, fi re marshalling and tractor use. "Importantly, too, high team morale is also built around good levels of communication so, with an eye on the race calendar, everyone in the team is kept fully informed of what's planned on a day-to-day basis, so there's no surprises (weather permitting). The result is a team of enthusiastic guys who are constantly thinking about what they're doing and why they do it, and coming up with ideas. They all want to see the course and the facilities looking their best." Track strategy One of Ron's fi rst tasks was to introduce a new programme of harrowing and aeration on the track. "Doing this every six to eight weeks brought immediate improvements to the root structure (which is now down to 10 inches rather than fi ve/six) that has resulted in better, lusher and thicker sward (DLF Masterline Pro 79 from Sherriff Amenity, kept at four inches for racing) that is now much more wear tolerant," he says. "And we're now using 60-90 tonnes of divot mix a year, compared to 200-300 tonnes." A new feed regime has also been introduced, based on applying Sherriff's Evo 5 fi ne grade in early March, "which will last us through to the summer, when we apply Headland's Xtend 46.0.0 nitrogen, though this year we also intend to use liquid feeds in May and July". An application of ICL Everris' ProTurf fertiliser will be applied in September. Ron's introduction to groundscare was, he says, a happy accident. "I tried university but soon discovered it wasn't for me and it was while in my local pub playing darts that I got talking to the head groundsman at Cartmel Racecourse and he mentioned a job vacancy. I spent a year there before moving to Leicester Racecourse and after 16 months joined Nottingham Racecourse as a groundsman. Three years later, in 2011, I was appointed assistant head groundsman at Newmarket, where I learned so much. When the opportunity arose to return to Nottingham as head groundsman (in May 2014), I saw it as a golden opportunity." Making sure every aspect of groundscare is addressed – every little thing – is a mantra that Ron says was passed to him during his days at Newmarket, under the auspices of director of racing Michael Prosser and the grounds team there who, he says, leave "nothing unattended – even the odd leaf in the car park is picked up". He adds: "The Newmarket team's ethos really opened my eyes and changed my whole outlook on the job. My experiences there reinforced the need for cleanliness and attention to detail – to take pride in every aspect of the job, even down to the precise straightness and angle of the running rails." ▼ Ron says attention to detail is key A revised programme of harrowing and aeration has improved the racecourse Included in Nottingham Racecourse's investment plan is a new mower for the track (a Progressive TDR15 from The Grass Group to complement the new, installed in 2015, front-mounted 12ft wide Votex mower) and a new 400-litre sprayer. These will complement the new John Deere 4066R tractor and Gator UTV both installed last year as part of Jockey Club Racecourses leasing deal with John Deere, plus a new Briggs hose reel irrigator with 24m boom, also purchased last year. Included in the wide range of machinery and equipment at the team's disposal are a Lastec front- mounted mower, a John Deere x740 ride-on, Dennis G760 cylinder mower (for the lawns), Sisis and Greys slitters, and a Wessex fl ail mower/collector, plus another Briggs 24m hose reel, two John Deere 5720s and a John Deere 5070m. Machinery Matters

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