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Arena Racing Company (ARC) has announced a significant investment in all-weather racing surfaces in Great Britain which will result in the first UK races to take place on a Tapeta surface.

After an extensive consultation process ARC has awarded Tapeta Footings, founded and owned by racehorse trainer Michael Dickinson, the contract to replace the existing all-weather surface at Wolverhampton with its own unique Tapeta surface (“Tapeta”).

Tapeta Footings is also the preferred supplier of the new all-weather surface at Newcastle which has today received approval from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to participate in the 2015 fixture allocation process.

In a truly innovative step for all-weather racing the new surface at Wolverhampton will see Tapeta introduced to British racing for the first time. The new Tapeta formula will be a sandy brown colour, as typically associated with all-weather racing.  The installation of Tapeta has the approval of racing authorities, including the BHA, and numerous leading Horsemen.

Tapeta is renowned internationally as a safe and durable surface for horses to both train and race on. It is used at four racecourses and dozens of training tracks across ten countries.  The four racecourses are Sheikh Mohammed’s Meydan racecourse in Dubai; Golden Gate Fields, San Francisco and Presque Isle Downs, Pennsylvania in the USA; and Tapeta Park in Devonport, Tasmania in Australia.

Many leading trainers around the world have Tapeta gallops including Godolphin’s training centres in Dubai and Newmarket, Mark Johnston’s Kingsley House yard in Middleham, James Ewart’s Craig’s Farm yard in Scotland, the South Korea Turf Club and the Fair Hill Training Centre (Maryland) in the USA which is home to three Kentucky Derby winning trainers Graham Motion, Michael Matz and Shug McGaughey.

Leading jockeys have also given their endorsement for the surface

“We love our Tapeta Track at Al Quoz and the Tapeta at Meydan on World Cup night was an excellent track,” statedSilvestre De Sousa.

“I rode at Meydan in The Dubai World Cup. The track was slick, fast and in good shape,” addedJamie Spencer.

ARC explained how Tapeta differs from Polytack: “The basic construction is similar but the component parts that makeup the top layer are different. Tapeta surface uses a selection of specifically blended fibres, waxes, PVC and sand up to a depth of 7 inches.

“It is used at four racecourses and dozens of training tracks across ten countries. The four racecourses are Sheikh Mohammed’s Meydan racecourse in Dubai; Golden Gate Fields, San Francisco and Presque Isle Downs, Pennsylvania in the USA; and Tapeta Park in Devonport, Tasmania in Australia.”

The make-up of the Tapeta surface Image reproduced with the kind permission of ARC Racing & Leisure Group

The make-up of the Tapeta surface
Image reproduced with the kind permission of ARC Racing & Leisure Group

Commenting after the recent World Cup meeting, Michael Dickinson stated: “I have been very happy with the performance of the Tapeta track.All the races have been fair and on a level playing field. Above all it was safe, and all the horses appear to have come home safe and sound.  The winners have come from all corners of the globe, from Abu Dhabi, South Africa, Ireland, England and Hong Kong. The Golden Shaheen was six furlongs run in 1.10 minutes, which is what you would expect from horse of that calibre.All the jockeys and trainers I’ve spoken to have been happy with the track.”

ARC outlined plans for Wolverhampton and the rescheduling of meetings: “Wolverhampton will host its last fixture on the current surface tomorrow, 29 April. The removal of the existing surface will commence the following week after which the underlining tarmac will be checked to ensure it is fit for purpose. Any remedial work to the tarmac will be carried out before the instalment of the new Tapeta surface. The aim is to have this completed by the end of June so the surface can be thoroughly tested throughout July before recommencing racing on 11 August. This timeframe has been agreed with the BHA and the Horsemen’s Group.

“ARC will be in continued dialogue with the BHA and Horsemen’s Group. If required fixtures can be moved to other courses within the ARC group, however the aim is to maintain the currently proposed timeline.

“The new surface will be carefully maintained and should be viable for many years. The exact length of its use will be determined with ongoing assessment over the coming months and years.”

In the meantime ARC remains “absolutely committed” to the all-weather surface at Lingfield which has proved popular with Horsemen and recently hosted the inaugural All-Weather Finals on Good Friday. The Group confirmed that Southwell will also retain its fibresand racetrack.

As part of the ongoing consultation with Horsemen, ARC has extended an invitation to trainers, via the National Trainers Federation (NTF), to bring their horses to Wolverhampton to test the new Tapeta surface during July. Their feedback will be closely reviewed by Tapeta Footings, ARC and the BHA prior to the proposed start of racing in August. In addition, during this period, the existing surface will be sold to those trainers who have indicated that they would be interested in purchasing some of it.

Jim Allen, ARC Racing Director, said: “ARC is establishing an unmatched record of investing in British all-weather racing through financing new surfaces at its existing tracks, as well as pioneering a new all-weather track at Newcastle and the introduction of the All-Weather Championships.

“We believe it is right time to bring a world-renowned surface like Tapeta to British racecourses for the first time.  We remain absolutely committed to the existing Polytrack surface at Lingfield and Fibresand surface at Southwell, both of which have proved safe for horses and popular with trainers. I believe we can look forward to years of exciting and competitive racing at all-weather racecourses in Britain.”

Michael Dickinson, Founder and Owner of Tapeta Footings, said: “We are delighted ARC has chosen Tapeta to provide the new racing surface at Wolverhampton. The manufacture of synthetic surfaces is ever evolving and by investing in R&D our product continues to advance utilising scientific input in the selection of specifically blended fibres and waxes. Our entire team is made up of Horsemen who have the horses and riders’ best interests at heart. We are truly passionate about our great sport. On a personal note I look forward to renewing my association with British Racing.”

Rupert Arnold, Chief Executive of the National Trainers Federation, said: “The NTF welcomes ARC’s choice of Tapeta to replace the racing surface at Wolverhampton. Tapeta scored highly in our survey of members’ preferences for the new surface and trainers who use the material on their gallops have been extremely enthusiastic about its merits. It is also reassuring that the Dickinsons are notoriously meticulous about after sales service as it is essential that synthetic surfaces are well maintained.”

Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, said: “PJA members gave positive feedback on the Tapeta surface having raced on it in Meydan since 2009, as well as on numerous gallops, and look forward to the opportunity to race on it in Britain.”

Wolverhampton’s rearranged fixtures will be transferred to the following tracks:

May 12th               Lingfield Park

June 5th                Southwell

June 19th              Southwell

June 23rd              Lingfield Park

June 30th              Southwell

July 8th                  Lingfield Park

July 14th                Lingfield Park

July 24th                Lingfield Park