Greyhounds need a firm, yet forgiving track if they are to achieve the grip and speed necessary to produce the sustained performance expected by owners, trainers and race-goers.
Visit Central Park Stadium, Sittingbourne, and you'll find a greyhound track that's presented in tip-top condition for every race thanks to the efforts of stadium manager, Andy Chetram, and his new Massey Ferguson 1547 compact tractor.
Towing a Sisis Quadraplay frame equipped with loosening tines, grooming rake and levelling blade, the 46hp tractor helps remove paw prints from the previous race while simultaneously smoothing and firming the surface to provide the optimum conditions for the next race.
Every seven to 10 days, depending on the frequency of race meetings, Andy uses the tractor with a power harrow to break up surface compaction and hard spots. A further regular task for the tractor is guiding a specialist grading blade around the track to maintain the camber necessary to help racing dogs negotiate safely the long bends at the end of each straight.
Supplied by local Massey Ferguson dealer, Agwood, the MF 1547 tractor replaced an ageing MF model that, according to Andy Chetram, had more than earned its pension. "The stadium has relied on Massey Ferguson tractors for many years and has never had a problem that couldn't be sorted quickly by the dealer," commented Andy. "When the time came to buy a new MF tractor, the most important point was selecting the most appropriate model for the range of specialist jobs to be carried out."
Andy explained that the equipment used to maintain the track had increased in size and weight over the years demanding a tractor that delivered good power output and grip without excessive weight.
"The top layer of the track comprises 150mm of fine sand which is kept moist to create the best possible surface conditions for dog racing," he said. "We needed a tractor able to tiptoe across the surface without marking while still having sufficient traction and power to operate the track maintenance machinery.
"Being four wheel-drive, the MF 1547 offers plenty of grip yet is not too heavy and delivers plenty of power across the speed range," he continued. "Most important also is the fact that the tractor has very low noise levels, so the dogs remain calm before a race. I like the tractor. It's proving a winner every time for my job."