Ken Nicol: The maintenance and preparation of a track for racing is by its nature water intensive. So how has Cape course manager Dean Diedericks managed to keep his racing surfaces so pristine in the middle of the most severe drought to have hit Cape Town within living memory?
The big man was happy to talk about how he works the magic.
“It’s no secret the drought has been a major problem for everybody in the Western Cape. We are fortunate that at Kenilworth in particular our internal dams filled up to some degree during the winter, so we are able to use that water.
“Last year we also made the fortunate decision to install three boreholes on the site which supply about 200 000 litres of water a day.
“We go the extra mile for our biggest days like the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and Sun Met, and have a few tricks up our sleeve to make the track look extra special on those days.”
The situation at Durbanville is more problematic, however, with the added complication of a new racing surface which is still trying to fully establish itself.
As Dean explained: ‘’I was recently looking at pictures of Durbanville from a year ago and it’s amazing what has been achieved in that time. We rely solely on one borehole there, and are hopeful that will be enough to last for the whole season. If so the track should go from strength to strength.
“The feedback from all stakeholders has been very positive, but it’s still very much a work in progress.
“The next meeting there is only on 3 February, but the track is used for gallops on a regular basis by both Milnerton and Phillipi-based trainers, so it’s not standing idle.’’
Looking at the long term, Dean is proactively investigating further ways to minimise the use of potable water.
“There is no way of telling if these drought conditions will end anytime soon.
“We have to look at alternatives, and are investigating the possibility of recycling effluent water.
“Going forward we in the Western Cape could be facing even greater challenges and as far as the availability of water is concerned, we have to be prepared for any possibility.”
After the Sun Met Dean plans to take “a well-deserved break’’.
He certainly has earned it after doing a brilliant job this Cape season under the most trying conditions.