A DAY at the races will be a special treat when Mackay's Ooralea Racecourse reopens on Saturday, May 5.
The Daily Mercury was treated to a special tour of the $7.4million redevelopment yesterday, before horses use the track for the first time today during a series of trials.
Although several jump-outs were held last week, today's trials from 11am-1pm over 800m and 1050m will be the first chance for trainers, owners and the horses to test out the new StrathAyr track, which was one of the priorities in the first stage of the redevelopment.
"The public can come and watch, but there will be no betting or catering facilities," racecourse promotions manager Lara Baumback said.
The course has been closed for the first stage of work since September 1 and there has been no racing since August 16.
Although Ooralea still resembles a construction site much of the racing facilities are completed, including a newly-laid track, new mounting yard, jockeys' and stewards' rooms, horse swabbing area, refurbished stalls, and judges' and race callers' boxes.
Work is under way on a new function centre, part of the stage two, but already a new Ooralea which race-goers will enjoy is unfolding.
There are larger spaces for people trackside and in front of the new mounting yards, the old betting ring has been moved and upgraded, more toilets will be provided and there will be plenty of loudspeakers and TV monitors.
"That was one of the things people complained about, that they couldn't hear the race calls or follow them," Baumback said.
"We've made sure we've fixed that."