After a considerable renovation programme last year York Racecourse were looking for a fast return to usability. Five and a half acres of the home straight was worked on and Head Groundsman Adrian Kay turned to DLF's John Hughes for advice.
Renovation work commenced in October last year, but that turned out to be a very wet month. As they were getting to the point of doing more damage than benefit work stopped until March.
The first meet on the racecourse was scheduled for mid-May so at that point it was even more crucial for the chosen seed to germinate quickly. John Hughes advised DLFs' Pro Master 80 as it incorporates the new Tetraploid perennial ryegrass Double that provides quick establishment and deeper rooting capacity. With horses going 40/50 mph the grass underneath is bound to get damaged, but the mixture has withstood the pounding of race days.
The cover is good due to the density that Pro Master 80 produces even at higher heights of cut. The mixture established rapidly in difficult cooler conditions providing excellent colour and disease resistance and is a mixture suitable for new builds or renovation where conditions are not at their best.
Seeding was undertaken mid-March and by the end of April it was up to 75mm, even though the conditions were not the best for grass growing due to limited light and limited intensity of the light and insulation. At the beginning of May, about 6 weeks after sowing, Adrian was comfortable with the density of the grass. "To get it to germinate in that time," he says, "is a testament to the grass seed itself.
It was a challenge but I felt relieved when it lived up to my expectations. Fineness of leaf was not top of my list due to the nature of race horsing. A racecourse is different to golf and football and requires more density due to the traffic we get on the course - more of a broader leaf with quick establishment I was looking for. I was really pleased with the speed of germination and am very happy with the result.