Turbo mower takes Cheltenham in its stride
By Steve Mitchell
A John Deere 1600T wide area rotary mower is proving a worthy addition to the grass cutting machinery fleet at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Delivered to the course ahead of the 2006 Cheltenham Festival, the mower is being used primarily to keep Cheltenham's 31.5ha (78ac) of racing surfaces in trim. Working in partnership with the racecourse's other mowing equipment, the 1600T has cut the time taken to complete the job by around 25 per cent, helping to reduce costs and manpower while bringing a steady improvement in the condition and appearance of the grass.
When it has completed its share of the racing surfaces, the 1600T moves on to the rest of the maintained grass at the course, an area of around 33ha (82ac). "Following the arrival of the John Deere mower, it takes about 16 hours to cut all of the grass across the racecourse, compared with 20 hours plus previously," points out Cheltenham's head groundsman Tony Howland. "The machine scores high marks for its power output, agility and speed of cut. Nothing seems to faze it."
Supplied by local John Deere dealer Parks & Grounds of Bidford on Avon, the 1600T was accompanied by an E-Gator electric utility vehicle destined principally for duties in and around the stable yard, where quiet, fuss-free operation is essential to avoid stress to the stabled horses.
"When looking for a new wide area mower, I took the advice of Aintree's groundsman, Adrian Kay, who recommended the John Deere 1600T for its reliability, performance and quality of finish," says Tony Howland. "He said that the machine's 3.25m cut is wide enough for good straight line performance on the race track, without comprising the manoeuvrability needed to cut quickly and tightly around jumps and fences."
These features are further enhanced by the mower's independently raised rotary wing units, which allow the operator to offset the line of cut to avoid running on the same wheel marks on subsequent mowing days, minimising the risk of tramlining and soil compaction.
"All in all, the 1600T delivers everything that we need in a self-propelled wide area mower," Tony Howland concludes. "Add to that its excellent price and the strong support of John Deere and its dealer Parks & Grounds, and you have a mower that should be high on the wish list of anyone cutting large areas of grass for a living."