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New start for Wolverhampton

Clerk of the course Fergus Cameron is looking forward to an "exciting" afternoon at Wolverhampton on Monday as racing takes place on the track's freshly laid Tapeta surface for the first time.

It was announced at the end of April that Wolverhampton was replacing Polytrack with the synthetic surface invented by former Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer Michael Dickinson.

Tapeta has been used at Meydan racecourse in Dubai and at various racecourses and training centres across the world, but Monday's fixture at Dunstall Park will be the first time racing has taken place on the surface in Britain.

The surface drew praise following a trial earlier this week and Cameron is waiting to receive more feedback from jockeys and trainers on Monday.

He said: "We're very much looking forward to staging the first race meeting to take place on Tapeta in the United Kingdom. It's exciting.

"Obviously it's very early days and we'll be expecting feedback from horsemen about how the surface rides tomorrow.

"We want to ensure we have a safe and sustainable surface going forward, so this is only the first step."

A total of 57 runners have been declared to run on a seven-race card, including horses from leading stables such as John Gosden and Saeed Bin Suroor, who knows the Tapeta surface well from having had many runners at Meydan in the winter.

Wolverhampton has a reputation for being something of a pioneer for British all-weather racing, having also been the first to introduce the use of floodlights at its track.

Kate Hills, communications director at racecourse owners ARC, said that the group were keen to offer owners, trainers and jockeys a choice of racing surfaces across its tracks with Polytrack being retained at Lingfield and Fibresand remaining in use at Southwell.

"ARC researched the surfaces preferred by UK trainers and found Polytrack and Tapeta to be equally popular," she said. "As the first Tapeta racecourse in this country, it gives trainers further choice as to what surface to run their horses on. All the trials have gone very well and we've received very positive feedback from the jockeys who took part.

"ARC is proud to have bought Tapeta, a world-class synthetic racing surface, to Great Britain for the first time.This is a major multi-million pound project for ARC.

"Along with the launch of the All-Weather Championships and bringing a much-needed all-weather track to the North at Newcastle, ARC is committed to long term investment in all-weather racing."