Major is a Solid Win for Ludlow Racecourse
Front mounted Major Swift Roller mower and 1700A Major water bowser tanker are elevating prestige and reputation at Ludlow Racecourse in Shropshire, England.
Racegoers, jockeys and owners appreciate Ludlow Racecourse for its easy, free-draining track and presenting race conditions, which could be considered good, good-to-soft – even in a wet winter. Since Tom Moreland was appointed Head Groundsman three years ago to enhance track performance, racing is now at a whole new level.
“Ludlow has always been known as a ‘go-kart’ track with tight bends and that doesn’t always lend itself to efficiency when it comes to irrigation,” begins Tom. “Whilst we have ring main irrigation installed, it’s the bends that are the most difficult to maintain at the right moisture level.”
Tom’s IOG expertise and agricultural machinery insights spurred specific changes in how the course prepares for race days. Under National Hunt rules, Ludlow holds around sixteen, race days between October and May and attracts as many as 5,000 visitors to each of its events.
Major Tanker distributes water evenly on racetrack
“We invested in a new Major 1700A water tanker, which we use to apply up to one inch of water at a time, via a splash-plate applicator,” continues Tom. “That helps us to maintain equal ground moisture conditions around the track. Because the track is founded on some seventy percent (70%) gravel and the rest down to loam, the capacity to take large amounts of water without water-logging, means we have much greater control over pre-race preparation.”
The Major 1700A tanker has a 1685 Gallon capacity, is fully galvanised with mechanical suspension and wide tyres, to aid floatation and avoid leaving wheel marks on the race-track. It came fitted with the splash plate applicator for even water distribution.
Major Swift at the centre of new mowing system
A sizeable portion of the racecourse’s 20ha site is grass, which has to maintained in top condition. “The previous mowing system was based on a simple topper that would tear and bruise the grass at each cut and we normally had to leave it to recover for a week before cutting again,” begins Tom. “I’ve since upgraded our mowing system to a new Major MJ71-400F front mounted roller mower”
The Major Swift Roller Mower is a gear-driven rotary mower, which eliminates problems associated with belt systems. The four metre working width has twelve blades that overlap by 60mm, and six rotors deliver high blade tip speeds of 75 m/s for consistent cut in a variety of conditions.
“We can cover the ground much faster than the previous mower, and by having it front mounted, we can mow right up to the fences and around posts and trees, without it being difficult for the operator,” continues Tom.
Quality of cut and presentation are real benefits of Major Swift
Ludlow Racecourse uses an 85hp Kubota tractor to power the Major MJ71 and they cut to British Horseracing Authority specifications of four inches. “The real benefit of the Major is the quality of cut,” affirms Tom. “It’s a very clean cut, the grass recovers very quickly so we can cut twice a week. I have to say that the grass plant looks so much better than it did before. It’s almost like a very thick carpet – and it gives me lot of pleasure to see it how it looks.”
“Another big benefit we get from the Major mower,” added Tom, “is that it leaves a really nice stripe, just like that of a cylinder mower. When we have the course prepared for race day, it looks stunning because of the way the mower leaves the grass, nicely cut, even, level and striped – it’s really beautiful! I have to say they have surpassed my expectations.”
Premium build and low maintenance
Major products are constructed to last longer than ordinary machinery. The Major Swift is built using Strenx™ high-strength steel and galvanised to ensure customers are getting a durable, premium product. “The galvanised finish on the mower and the tanker means they’re going to last a lot longer than a normal expectation of three to five years,” adds Tom.
“Maintenance on both Major products is simple – just a wash-down and grease-up and that’s about it. I can see these machines both giving long-term performance so that will be an added bonus when it comes to profitability and operating costs for the entire racecourse. I’m sure our accountants will be happy with that,” enthuses Tom.
“I know a winner when I see one”
“Jockeys and owners have commented on how well the course has been prepared and they are enjoying racing here. Likewise, many of our visitors comment on how pretty and well-prepared our course looks and that encourages them to come back for future race days. Yes, much of this positive feedback is down to our decision-making and our team of professionals who work hard to keep Ludlow Racecourse looking really good. For me, it’s also down to the quality of machinery we are using and the Major team who have given us great product support and back-up.
“I think I can safely say that I know a winner when I see one!” concludes Tom.