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A synthetic racetrack surface is a kind of surface substance that replaces grass, dirt or sand as the racing surface on a horse racing track. Manufacturers of synthetic racetrack surface materials promote the fact that synthetic tracks have drainage attributes that are better than natural surfaces. In other situations such as cold weather, these surfaces allow racing to be continued when it might otherwise be cancelled.

Synthetic tracks are also used in large horse-training centres to allow trainers to train their horses even in inclement weather conditions.


The first synthetic surface used for thoroughbred racing was Tropical Park's Tartan turf, a synthetic surface similar to Astroturf installed in 1966. Tartan turf was never a success with horsemen.[1]

The first synthetic surface to replace dirt in the United States was installed at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington, PA in 1963. This surface, called Tartan, was found to be unsatisfactory and removed and replaced with a traditional limestone surface in 1975.

Current types of synthetic surface products

(In alphabetical order)

Cushion Track

Installer: Equestrian Surfaces

Origin: United Kingdom

Description of surface: Sand, synthetic fibers, elastic fiber, and granulated rubber coated with wax. The footing is approximately nine inches deep, followed by a geotextile membrane.[2]

Installations: Santa Anita Park (removed), Betfair Hollywood Park & Toowoomba QLD.


Installer: Mansfield Sand Company

Origin: United Kingdom

Description of surface: Sand particles and polypropylene fibres.[3]

Installations: Southwell Racecourse[4]


Installer: Martin Collins Enterprises

Origin: United Kingdom

Description of surface: A mixture of silica sand, recycled synthetic fibers (carpet & spandex) and recycled rubber/pvc. In cold climates, the mixture may also include jelly cable (plastic insulation from copper phone wire). The entire mixture is coated with wax.

Installations: Lingfield Park, Wolverhampton, Kempton Park, Great Leighs, Dundalk, Chantilly, Marseille-Vivaux, Pau (CLOPF), Kranji, Mijas(CLOPF), Veliefendi, Turfway Park, Woodbine, Arlington Park, Del Mar Racetrack & Keeneland Race Course.


Installer: Pro-Ride Racing Australia Pty Ltd

Origin: Australia

Description of surface: 6 Inches of footing (Sand, Nylon fibres, Spandex fibres coated in a Polymeric Binder) on top of a 4 inch IMC Layer (Sand & Nylon fibres) on top of a drainage system.[5]

Installations: Flemington Racecourse VIC, Rosehill Racecourse NSW & Warwick Farm Racecourse NSW.[6]


Installer: Michael Dickinson, Inc.

Origin: USA

Description of surface: Sand, fibre, rubber and wax makes up the top 4-7 inches of the racing surface, followed by either porous asphalt or a geotextile membrane.[7]

Installations: Golden Gate Fields, Presque Isle Downs and Meydan Racecourse.


Origin: Australia

Description of surface: Sand and fibre coated in Wax.

Installations: Flemington VIC (removed) Cranbourne VIC (removed) and Warwick Farm NSW (removed).


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