Peter V'landys has moved to allay fears Kembla Grange will be left trailing provincial cousin Newcastle after the Racing NSW boss rubber-stamped a $2 million upgrade to training facilities at the historic racecourse.
As revealed in the Mercury last week, Minister for Racing George Souris yesterday announced an all-weather training surface will be installed at Kembla.
Drainage works on the course proper will also take place, lifting the first stage of the Illawarra Turf Club's race-fields legislation handout to $2 million.
The figure pales in comparison to the $11 million facelift Newcastle's troubled Broadmeadow racecourse is set to undertake, which includes the addition of a second racing surface as well as a major upgrade to its course proper.
The Newcastle Jockey Club already has the benefit of a similar Pro-Ride synthetic training surface to be constructed at Kembla.
V'landys told the Mercury Kembla is also in line for a second racing surface after a study - to begin immediately - is commissioned into stage two works at the track.
The study will also explore the best available surface using technology to improve Kembla's course proper.
"We're using Newcastle as the trial and as soon as that's done then we'll do Kembla," V'landys said. "Fortunately for Kembla it's a much better track than Newcastle.
"Newcastle needed major works whereas Kembla Grange doesn't. We're not going to disadvantage the Illawarra, and that's why we said it in the press release, this is only stage one. By the end of it there will be just as much benefit to Kembla Grange."
ITC chairman Peter De Vries hailed the announcement as a boost to trainers in the region, who will prepare horses at a track able to cater for all types of weather.
While predicting his board will try to preserve the existing sand surface set to be replaced with the state-of-the-art synthetic training track, De Vries said the stage two works were the big sweetener in the deal.
"We're very pleased to see in stage two the potential to see a second track in between the course proper and the B grass," he said.
"The board of the [Illawarra] Turf Club will look at spending money themselves on moving the existing sand track to another position on the course so that we don't have the situation of one being replaced by the other.
"I want them [trainers] to finish up with an additional training track rather than one replacing the other."
V'landys made no apologies for the calculated approach his organisation has adopted with the race fields legislation pot, a result of Racing NSW's successful defence of High Court legal challenges.
"You only get this sort of money once in an era and you want to make sure you spend it the right way," he said.
"Then you make sure you get long-term benefit rather than just short-term benefit."
A new streamlined board of the ITC, including independent directors, will also take effect as a result of the race-fields legislation handout.