Tapeta™ track surface development

April - August 2014

Why is Tapeta a good racing surface?

Tapeta offers a number of advantages including:

  1. A consistent safety record;
  2. Viability in a range of weather conditions including the relatively temperate British climate; and
  3. Minimal use of water and lighter machinery for maintenance.

How is Tapeta different to other surfaces, such as Polytrack?

The basic construction is similar but the component parts that makeup the top layer are different. Tapeta surface uses a selection of specifically blended fibres, waxes, PVC and sand up to a depth of 7 inches.

Will the Tapeta surface be black like it is in Meydan?

No. It will be a sandy-brown colour like other all-weather surfaces in Britain and around the world.

Who invented Tapeta?

Tapeta was pioneered by Michael Dickinson and his wife Joan Wakefield a decade and a half ago at their farm in the US. Both have extensive racing knowledge which lead them to wanting to create a safe, consistent and reliable surface for horses to train and race on which is exactly what they have done with Tapeta.

Michael was a Champion Amateur jump jockey before become Champions jumps trainer on three occasions and famously training the first five home in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Michael was his own guinea pig. He trained on Tapeta for eight years on his farm at Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. In those eight years he won the Breeders' Cup twice and eight Group One races in the US.

Joan is joint-owner of Tapeta Footings with Michael and has been involved with the company from the start. She has worked with horses all her life, being a successful show jumper where she won at Hickstead and The Royal Show, before becoming Assistant Trainer for 15 years.

Which racecourses use Tapeta?

It is used at four racecourses and dozens of training tracks across ten countries. The four racecourses are Sheikh Mohammed's Meydan racecourse in Dubai; Golden Gate Fields, San Francisco and Presque Isle Downs, Pennsylvania in the USA; and Tapeta Park in Devonport, Tasmania in Australia.

Which trainers use Tapeta on their gallops?

Many leading trainers around the world have Tapeta gallops including Godolphin's training centres in Dubai and Newmarket, Mark Johnston's Kingsley House yard in Middleham, James Ewart's Craig's Farm yard in Scotland, the South Korea Turf Club and the Fair Hill Training Centre (Maryland) in the USA which is home to three Kentucky Derby winning trainers Graham Motion, Michael Matz and Shug McGaughey. In 2013 the Breeders' Cup Classic Winner Mucho Macho Man spent the summer at Fair Hill before his win at Santa Anita Park.

How long will the new Tapeta surface be down for at Wolverhampton?

The new surface will be carefully maintained and should be viable for many years. The exact length of its use will be determined with ongoing assessment over the coming months and years.

Is Tapeta approved by the British Horseracing Authority?

Yes, Tapeta has been approved by the BHA as a racing surface in Britain.

Did ARC consult trainers and if so how many support the introduction of Tapeta at Wolverhampton?

Since announcing the tender process in January ARC has consulted widely with stakeholders. ARC has liaised with the National Trainers Federation (NTF) and its members and received many positive formal and informal comments about Tapeta. When surveyed 46% of NTF members were supportive of introducing Tapeta, with 46% in favour of maintaining a Polytrack surface.

Why did ARC not continue to use Polytrack at Wolverhampton?

Tapeta offers a number of advantages that ARC felt make it an ideal surface for racing at Wolverhampton, and potentially in the future at Newcastle. The new Tapeta surface will offer British trainers more choice about what surface to run their horses on. It is bringing innovation to British all-weather racing which is a unique opportunity for all stakeholders and one ARC feels is an important step for the sport.

Is ARC committed to the Polytrack surface at Lingfield?

Yes ARC remains absolutely committed to the all-weather surface at Lingfield which has proved popular with Horsemen and hosted the inaugural All-Weather Finals on Good Friday.

Will Southwell continue to be a fibresand racecourse?


What do Horsemen think about Tapeta?

Leading trainers:

"Tapeta is the best synthetic surface, better than all the rest."
Saeed Bin Suroor

"In the early part of 2009 I trained on Tapeta, Polytrack and the famous Middleham High Moor turf gallops. Since June, although I still had others options, I chose to train almost exclusively on Tapeta. Our Tapeta gallop is second to none and has made a huge contribution to the year's achievements and to the health of the team."
Mark Johnston

"The surface is exceptional for horse and rider in terms of safety and in ease of maintenance. They offer a massively professional service with a true passion for the surface which in my professional opinion is unequalled by any other artificial surface company."
James Ewart

"Tapeta is a kind surface and my horses love it."
Ernst Oertel, Leading UAE Trainer for the last two years

Leading Jockeys:

"We love our Tapeta Track at Al Quoz and the Tapeta at Meydan on World Cup night was an excellent track."
Silvestre De Sousa

"I rode at Meydan in The Dubai World Cup. The track was slick, fast and in good shape."
Jamie Spencer

"The Tapeta rode beautifully. A great track, safe and stable, my horses gave me a good feel."
Joao Moreira

Download a larger view of the new track surface here.