Horses on Lambourn Training Grounds

04th July 2014

Mowing, waxing, cheering: busy times at Lambourn Training Grounds

This is the time of year that the state of the lawn is a headache for a lot of people. After a mild wet winter and one of the kindest springs for many years, the grass is growing abundantly. Here in Lambourn, we have a lot of grass to mow. 182 acres to be precise - roughly the size of 103 Old Traffords.

As a colleague said “I take it you are not using a fly mow to do that!” Try a 4.7 metre roller mower which is out every day, cutting the grass. Much like painting the Forth Bridge once you get to the end, it's time to start again!

It is not just about the grass. We use the summer months for routine gallops improvements each year. Dry, fine weather means that ground conditions are good for moving heavy machinery such as the excavators and spreaders we will need.

This year we are rewaxing the Short, our five furlong all weather canter. Rewaxing has to be done to be done at this part of year so the surface is bone dry. The process will take three days so you are looking for a good weather window to get it done.

Waxing gives an artificial surface its all weather nature, making it free draining and water repellent. This naturally breaks down over time and use. The Short will have 150-200 horses training on it and a tractor going up it three times a day, so it gets a lot of use.

The winter of 2012/13 was particularly hard on artificial surfaces. We were proud to have kept the horses moving and training during the weeks of bad weather. The downside is it shortens the life of the surface, as while we will remove the majority of the snow but we have to mix the last bits into the surface to make it usable.

First day of the project, we add fibre to the surface. Fibre is what gives it energy return - the spring the horse gets off the surface. It is applied by a spreader at a rate of about 1.12kg per square metre and mixed into the surface.

The next day is waxing day. A power harrow, with added nozzles will put really hot wax into the gallop’s surface and mix it in. You need dry hot weather for this: dry so the wax mixes into the surface and hot so it doesn’t cool too quickly. A day to let the surface settle and then it is ready to open again.

Our other project is the creation of a three furlong horsewalk linking the Crossing to Lime Spa. This will mean that horses have a safer alternative than the road. The great thing is that we will be reusing the few hundred tons of old gallops surface we have from the Long refurbishment.

This weekend is a big one for us and we are really excited to see what Toast of New York can unleash in the Belmont Derby Invitational on Saturday night.

It has been great time for Lambourn trainers, with Jo Hughes’ London Bridge triumphing in the Breeders Cup Marathon, Jamie Snowden’s Present View winning the Rewards4Racing Novices' Handicap Chase at the Festival and of course Toast of New York’s UAE Derby. If he can follow up, well I think you will hear the Lambourn cheers in the State of New York!