KEEPING TRACK | Update on the StrathAyr track project

8 Jul 2022
Auckland Thoroughbred Racing

Roughly every quarter, we plan to publish a progress report of our track at Ellerslie as it is upgraded to a StrathAyr surface.

Today we’re excited to share with you our first update from this significant piece of work.

A minute with Martin

Click on the video below to hear from Martin Neville, project manager at StrathAyr, who has kindly offered to provide updates with behind-the-scenes information on the project.


Our project team provides a progress report on how things are shaping up.

1. What has been done since the project began?

Following a tender process, HEB Construction was awarded the track upgrade process in conjunction with StrathAyr.

Since the commencement of the project in March, the first work involved installing the required environmental protection systems as required by Council, followed by installation of new stormwater drainage and irrigation lines.

These works have been done in conjunction with the removal of old subsoil drainage and redundant infrastructure.

StrathAyr has been onsite from early May. They have started the installation of the subsoil collector drainage (inside of the course proper) which is a critical component of the StrathAyr design and are working on that in a clockwise direction from the winning post.

In addition to this, the excavation for the new vehicle underpass is progressing well.

The preparation / mixing for the new track surface has also started. This layer is made up of a mesh component, sand and peat and is combined using a specifically designed machine.

For reference, the total track area is approximately 67,500m2 with construction progress from the team (HEB & StrathAyr) to the end of June being:

  • 714m of new subsoil stormwater drainage and collector pipes installed

  • 91m of new mainline stormwater drainage installed

  • 850m of new irrigation / sprinkler pipe installed

  • 2,578t of gravel delivered; 13,512t in total required

  • 2,444t of sand delivered; 36,120t in total required

  • 154 bales of peat moss delivered; 396 bales in total required

  • 920 bales of reflex mesh delivered; 2,300 bales in total required

  • 2,444t of sand mixed with peat moss and 500t of sand and peat moss material mixed with reflex mesh

  • Approx. 1,100m of existing stormwater drainage removed

  • Approx. 1,100m of existing irrigation lines removed

  • Approx. 2,025m3 of ash material and 800m3 of basalt rock excavated from the new underpass area and stockpiled on site

2. What’s next to be completed?

Looking ahead, the team will continue with work on the new stormwater drainage, removal of the existing subsoil drainage and building the new vehicle and pedestrian underpass at the northern end of the racecourse. The underpass and access ramp structures are scheduled to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

3. Why is the work that’s currently underway important to the overall project?

The new stormwater drainage will clean and transport water into the new irrigation pond which is a body of water that will be used to irrigate the StrathAyr track.

The existing subsoil drainage is being removed and replaced in accordance with the StrathAyr specifications. This will ensure the track can be maintained at an optimal standard.

The sand, peat moss and reflex mesh is a critical element to the StrathAyr profile and once mixed, is stockpiled ready for laying.

ATR property development manager, Don Greenaway, taking a look at the stockpiled product


4. What’s gone well?

Early procurement of some critical materials has mitigated material shortages and worldwide shipping delays. This has enabled premixing of the specialist track layers to be progressed ready for installation towards the end of 2022.

As we expected when commencing work in a pandemic, there has been a certain amount of staff absenteeism – something experienced by most industries in New Zealand – however this has been lower than expected which, given the world we’re all living in, was a nice surprise.

5. What challenges have been faced so far?

Challenges that are currently widespread in New Zealand, and something we haven’t been immune to, are the shortage of materials and growing lead times for said materials.

We are also mindful of the weather as we work throughout the winter months. This was allowed for in the programmed work, but let’s all cross our fingers for a run of bluebird days!

I spy with my little eye…

Check out a bird’s-eye view of the progress to date:

Major Partners