Kembla Grange gets facelift

HORSE RACING

Kembla Grange's once-in-a-generation makeover is almost certain to begin by the end of the year with no interruption to the racing calendar.

The installation of a second track, which will be used for racing meetings, as well as construction of a state-of-the-art sand track are the big ticket items in the multimillion-dollar development.

It has taken more than a year of planning, but The Punt has been told work will get under way before the end of 2014 and Illawarra Turf Club chief executive Peter De Vries confirmed he is nearing a starting date.

"We're looking for commencement to be in the latter half of this year with completion around the middle of next year," he said.

"We don't expect there to be any effects on racing at all. Once we put it into plan we're looking at the whole job being completed in something like seven months.

"And what we're working to is no interruption to the racing schedule and minimal interruption to training. There's going to be some pain because we're going to have to move people from the old sand track on to the course proper, on to the B grass and then back on to the fast sand track," he said.

The historic racecourse will follow a similar model to that of Newcastle, who will also have another surface outside the course proper which can be used for racing.

The finishing date for Kembla's redevelopment will be of interest with the club's headline Sensational Sunday program slated for late March.

Given timely work and suitable weather conditions there is a chance most of the work will be finished by the time the Keith Nolan Classic rolls around.

In the meantime the ITC will still work through the consultancy and surveyor stage before the council rubber stamps the development.

"Unfortunately, when major construction takes place like this there will be some need for the trainers and the club to make suitable arrangements that may still cause a few hiccups," De Vries said.

"If we have wonderful weather there's no problem," he said.

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