Track & Facilities A-team

Tuesday, 24th July 2018

A central aspect of sustaining the success of Cairns Jockey Club is maintenance of the grounds and race track at Cannon Park. Alister Glasser, Track and Facilities Manager, and his wife Kiyomi Taira, Track Assistant, work tirelessly to preserve the race track throughout the year, providing the best experience for race guests and participants.

Alister began his career working with horses as his first job following agricultural college, in a position on a thoroughbred farm in the Hunter Valley NSW. He says racing has shaped his life, being his livelihood from an early age. Working closely with horses on farms and training stables in Japan, Kentucky and Newmarket, England, he has a wealth of experience in the racing industry. After moving to Cairns, Alister and Kiyomi met and began their work with the Cairns Jockey Club, climbing the ranks over the past 15 years, to hold their current position.

The pair work a long and intensive day at Cannon Park, beginning at 4:30am, acting as safety officers while horses train throughout the morning. From 8:30am, they assume work on the grounds and facilities. This role includes maintenance of the track and grounds, as well as supervision of any projects. They monitor irrigation, fertilisation and aeration, evaluating the condition of the track, to optimise its performance.

Operating a race course in Cairns comes with extensive responsibility to maintain safety for jockeys and horses, due to the risk accompanied by the area’s considerable levels of rainfall. Alister and Kiyomi work closely with Queensland Racing to ensure they are implementing necessary strategies to prioritise safety and track success, aiming for a good 4. Because of rain and excess water on the track, it can often become heavy and soft, resulting in decreased performance. To prevent this occurring, irrigating is limited during the wet season and drainage is closely monitored. Three years ago, the track underwent an upgrade which introduced drainage and improved the conditions of the grounds. Currently, the Course Proper Sand Project is being executed, which also aids drainage, alongside improving the track’s profile.

Updated machinery has assisted further with improvements to the track. New mowers, sand spreaders, tractors and harrows have been purchased, making maintenance more efficient and successful. To add to the improvement of the facilities over the past year, a massive expansion has been made to the peoples’ area, providing an exceptional experience for guests. According to Alister, the club operates with a growth mindset, constantly looking for ways to improve the facilities and thus the guest’s experience. Feedback, foresight and knowledge is vital in preventing possible issues and continuing to meet the public’s demands, providing the most enjoyable race day experience.

Alister and Kiyomi are encouraged by the increasing engagement in Cairns racing. They have said, the industry is booming, with crowds steadily growing. They continue to work to maintain our amazing facilities here at Cannon Park and provide everyone with the best possible outcome at all events. The track has been predicted to perform wonderfully at this year’s Red Beret Hotel Cairns Cup Carnival and will continue to grow and thrive with many future improvements planned.

Photo: Nixie Loukas
Written by: Nixie Loukas

Shahnee Ricci