Peter Duthie was part of the genesis. Now – years later – the finished product is under his care.
Peter started his new position as Murray Bridge Racing Club track manager last week and oversees his first meeting at Gifford Hill tomorrow.
The 51-year-old is a familiar face, having been track manager at Murray Bridge’s old race track site “for three or four years”, while also being involved at the birth of the current track.
“I was the track manager at the old track when we starting putting all the grass in for the new track,” he said.
“I was actually running both tracks and living at the farmhouse (on site).”
Peter said having prior experience with the Gifford Hill facility was a definite advantage.
“Look, it definitely helps, but I’ve still got to get my head around a few things,” he said.
“When I was out here the first time, I didn’t have horses to worry about. I could water anytime I wanted to and we were giving the track water eight to 10 times a day, because it’s so windy out here.
“Now, I’ve got to look out for the horses.”
After leaving the club, Peter moved to Perth for family reasons, before returning to SA and working as a gardening contractor.
Since launching last year, the Gifford Hill track has earned rave reviews across the Australian racing scene, being praised for its safe and fair racing surface.
“It’s beautiful, but I always knew it was going to be good,” Peter said.
“The camber of the track, the turns, it’s just so nice for the horses. It’s horse-friendly and I always knew it would be.
“But at the end of the day, you’ve still got to maintain it, and keep it right.”
Peter attended last year’s Murray Bridge Gold Cup meeting and said the positive feedback was already flowing.
“I just wanted to have a look at it, because I knew it was racing fairly good,” he said.
“From what I could gather people were pretty happy with it.”
Peter is looking forward to next month’s 2020 Gold Cup day, but before that admits to being a little on edge about tomorrow’s meeting.
“Yeah, I’m probably a bit nervous, but we’ll get through okay,” he said.
“Leading hand Ryan Carter has been great. He’s really stepped up and made my life easier.
“You’ve just got to try to keep the owners, trainers, horses and punters happy.
“But I’ve got a good rapport with John (Buhagiar, club secretary/manager) and if I’ve got any doubts, I’ll run them past him. We work well together.”