A day at the races for Groundkeeper & Profihopper
21 April 2017
York racecourse is located on the flood plain of the River Ouse, meaning that it is not without its own potential problems, and covers an area of 10 hectares across the car parking, the track itself and the high-maintenance lawn areas and is looked after by 7 grounds staff and 2 gardeners; ably assisted, of course, by an Amazone Groundkeeper 1800 Drive and a Profihopper 4WDi. The racing season, encompassing 17 days across 9 meetings, runs from May through to October and so, for the grounds staff headed up by Adrian Kay, there isn’t a dull moment. With 10 years’ experience here at York and previously over a similar period at Aintree, then it’s not surprising that Mr. Kay knows all there is to know about giving the public and racing industry what they both need. So out on the course then, post-meeting, a host of people manually do the divot replacement whereas the track itself is mown constantly 3 or 4 times a week with a cut and drop, 16’ wide rotary mower; the cutting height of which depends on the going with more grass left on if the going is firm, ‘We have invested heavily in irrigation and drainage out on the course and so we can add water if necessary and loose it if we have too much so growing grass is not a problem’ comments Mr. Kay. However, as soon as the season finishes and before the weather goes against them, then it’s down to the hard work as parts of the track are stripped off down to nothing with the scarifying/mowing blade combination on the Groundkeeper 1800 Drive leaving the perfect finish to get in with the TopMaker fraise mower and renovate the top surface layer, renewing the split drainage and then finally reseeding. The GHS1800 Drive can also come in and thin out the course mid-season if grass growth dictates the need.
Away from the track, these 17 days of racing mean that well in excess of half a million people come through the turnstiles each year and it is this amount of footfall that makes life for Adrian Kay and his team as equally hectic in getting the immaculately turned out hospitality lawns back to standard before the next influx of heels arrives. ‘In amongst the tables and around the walk-throughs from lawn to lawn, then the passage of feet leaves the fine turf looking distinctly tired and matted especially in the areas around the bookies,’ explains Mr. Kay and of course time is of the essence ‘We get straight in and use the Profihopper to loosen the surface and clean out the matted sward and then we are ready to reseed and top dress ahead of the next meeting.’ In fact driver John Imosen is never off the Profihopper as the parade ring, winner’s enclosure and lawns needs constant TLC, ‘We mow all the hospitality areas and rings before the meeting and we then use the cut material that the Profihopper and Groundkeeper collect to mulch down the public crossings that go across the track for the horses to run across. And again after the season has closed, the Profihopper can strip the grass surface right back with the scarifying knives so that again the areas can be reseeded or renovated completely.
So, as the new season in York beckons again this year, the Profihopper is putting down those stripes and there is no rest for the wicked as they say!