A free-draining concrete solution is being trialled in Victoria that could result in a new equine market opening up.
Rubberised Concrete to be Used in Australia
The substructure product being tested, named Equine Air, was installed in July at Pakenham Racecourse. The sustainable drainage system offers an alternative to traditional unbound road bases. It was originally developed for netball courts and has global accreditation for a variety of field sports.
“We built some soccer fields at Doncaster in the UK, which led to its application in the horse racing field,” said Gary Bullock, Managing Director of Flexiroc Australia.
“Rubberised concrete, as a concept has been around for a few years”, he added, “pointing out that it remains a challenge to work with. It is prone to balling up in the mix and achieving a proper dispersion can be tricky.
“Some of the biggest concrete companies in the world have tried to use it, and have given up,” said Bullock, who added it took four years’ research and development to get it right.
The first Australian trial was on a 35-metre track at Talwood Park. The Pakenham trial, measuring 110 metres by 5 metres, will establish a performance basis for track improvements in the racing industry.
These are not the only possible ways of creating value from old tyres, but the “most consistently high-grade” opportunities so far have been with roads, explains Liam O’Keefe, Market Development Manager at TSA.
Among the claimed benefits of Equine Air are improved track drainage, use in all weather conditions and reduced horse injuries due to its cushioned base. And Pakenham and thoroughbred tracks are just the beginning.
“After extensive performance testing, Equine Air will hopefully become the benchmark for Racing Victoria,” Bullock said.
“Ultimately, we hope it will be used in thoroughbred tracks around the world.”
“So keep driving and wearing out those tyres,” Bullock said.