Racing: Little time to relax as track takes priority

Wingatui track manager Wayne Stevens has been a busy man preparing for today's big meeting at...
Wingatui track manager Wayne Stevens has been a busy man preparing for today's big meeting at Wingatui. Photo by Gregor Richardson

Wayne Stevens was casting a wary look at the skies on Christmas Day with his prized piece of turf at Wingatui on his mind.

The Wingatui track manager split his Christmas Day between Christmas dinner at home and a couple of visits to the track in preparation for the Boxing Day meeting at Wingatui today.

A track reading and maintenance of the training tracks in the morning was followed by Christmas dinner, before Stevens returned for a track reading in the afternoon.

The Boxing Day meeting promises to be a huge day for Stevens and his team.

''We'll be back at 6am [this] morning for another track reading,'' he said.

''I'll whip home, have a shower and get changed, and then back again, so it'll be a long day - 15 or 16 hours. We've got to lock up and tidy things up, and get people out of the road, so it'll probably be 9.30pm by the time we get home on Boxing Day.

A meeting at Wingatui on December 17 did not cause too much wear and tear to the track.

''We got through that day good and we had a bit of rain since, but it's just [a matter of] keeping an eye on the forecast and making sure your track's got enough moisture in it so if we do have rain on the day, things are safe.''

Stevens trained 15 winners between 2003 and 2010, including the 2007 Gore Guineas and 2009 Eclipse Stakes winner Halobelle, but gave training away several years ago as the track management took up more of his time.

''Trying to look after this track is the thing. You've got to do a lot of rail movements in the winter.

''It's a lot of fun; you meet a lot of good people. There's the other side too, where you get a lot of moans and things like that, but you just deal with it.''

Rain is forecast for this morning but is expected to clear in the afternoon.

The sun has added to the workload of Stevens' ground team, with rapid grass growth.

''We're mowing three times a week now, so that takes up a wee bit of our time.''

The first race is at 2.11pm and the last at 7.40pm.

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