AN environmental weed has caused disruption to the track preparation for the Warrnambool May Racing Carnival, with Racing Victoria calling on their track experts to halt the spread with time running against them.
Poa Annua is the scourge of track managers at racecourses in Victoria and New South Wales, growing in clumps spreading through the grass and is best controlled by using a pre-emergent herbicide.
Warrnambool-born Liam O'Keeffe, who is in charge of the Flemington racing precinct, Melbourne Racing Club track manager Tim Bailey plus RV track and facilities manager James Cataldo have inspected the track across the past fortnight to get on top of the situation.
Warrnambool Racing Club chief executive Tom O'Connor said his track team is working through a long-term Poa issue with the track.
"It's a problem that we've had for a long period of time," O'Connor said.
"We sought support and advice from industry leaders, including Liam, Tim and James. They have been really helpful and supportive.
"We're working on a strategy to leave no stone unturned to present the track in as good of condition in preparation for this year's three-day May carnival.
"It's a problem we've had at previous carnivals, but this year, because of the dry summer we've had, it's worse, particularly at the 400, 1400 and 1600 metre marks.
"Our track staff are doing a great job with the help of RV in keeping it in check.
"We race this Friday, and after that, we've got five weeks until our May carnival and we feel that gives our track team the best opportunity to have the track ready for the carnival.
"We're having discussions with RV to set up a long-term plan to address the issues of Poa Annua."
Warrnambool's carnival is on May 3, 4 and 5.
Respected Warrnambool trainer Maureen Harry will continue her training career in Queensland. Harry and her husband Terry have sold their Bushfield property and hope to relocate to Deagon in May.
"We've sold the property and will move up north to be closer to our daughter Kelly and grandson," Harry said.
"Terry had a heart attack in the middle of last year. He had five operations, including some to fix infections.
"It was a very worrying time for our family while he was very sick but he's a lot better now.
"We just thought it would be better if we moved up closer to where Kelly is living.
"It was a tough decision to make the move because we've got a lot of friends here but I'm sure we're making the right decision.
"We're just taking things a bit easier now than we were previously.
"I spoke to Racing Victoria and they put my trainer's licence on hold while we got Terry back to good health.
"It's a big move because we've got a lot of friends down here.
"Once we settle down up north, I'm hoping to have one or two horses in work but we're in no hurry; we'll just take our time to settle in up there before starting to train again."
Harry, who has trained in Warrnambool for nearly 50 years, says her career highlight is winning the Rubiton Stakes in 2006 with Bomber Bill.
Veteran trainer Eric Musgrove, who has been one of the leading forces in jumps racing for many years, kicked off the 2022 season with a winner when Serenade The Stars won a maiden hurdle at Terang on Friday.
Musgrove played down the performance of Serenade The Stars and El Diez, who won a high-weight flat race over 2150 metres.
"We've got a handy team of jumpers in the stable," the astute trainer said.
"Serenade The Stars is just learning about the jumping caper. I think with time and a bit of experience, he's going to be a lot better.
"I'm not going to rush him this season. El Diez won his maiden hurdle last year and showed he's ready for a good season with a flat win on Friday. He's come back into work a lot stronger this year."
Musgrove said his handy jumper Gobstopper has been set to run in the Galleywood Hurdle on the middle day of the upcoming Warrnambool May Carnival.
Symon Wilde chose not to risk his handy stayer French Moon at Flemington on Saturday.
French Moon was to have run in a $150,000 benchmark 80 but Wilde scratched the four-year-old from the 2500-metre race.
"French Moon had a bit of heat in his near front foot when we trotted him up," the Warrnambool trainer said.
"We've got a bit of an opinion of French Moon.
"With a bit of time, I think he's going to develop into a handy stayer.
"We'll have the vets check him out over the next few days to make sure there's not a major issue.
"I think there's a nice race at Bendigo on April 2 but we'll be guided by what the vets have to say."
French Moon has won four of his 12 starts.
Warrnambool jockey Melissa Julius pleaded guilty to a careless riding charge following her ride on Cernan at Terang on Friday.
Julius was suspended for eight meetings. Her suspension starts at midnight on March 25 and ends midnight April 1. Stewards deemed the incident to be in the low range before handing down the penalty.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.