Ascot Racecourse closed for a £200-million redevelopment in 2004,and was reopened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on 20th June 2006. The works included the realignment of the straight mile and a complete new irrigation system around the whole racetrack. However, although the irrigation system was designed by a consultant and installed correctly, it failed to perform as specified.
In 2015 the decision was taken by the racecourse management to replace the irrigation system. Four manufacturers were invited to demonstrate their equipment to the grounds management. Irriplan were contacted directly and provided and installed a pair of Hunter G995E sprinklers. The sprinklers made an immediate impact, being the only manufacturer providing a complete rain curtain across the whole track. The quality and ease of use of the Hunter Pilot-CC control software also made it a simple decision for the team at Royal Ascot to choose Hunter and Irriplan for the replacement irrigation system. The Royal Ascot grounds management team also researched irrigation contractors who would be capable of such a prestigious and comprehensive irrigation system. Irrigation Control Ltd of Cheshire were appointed by the racecourse after recommendations by other clients of a similar standing.
The correct installation of the new irrigation system at Royal Ascot was critical to ensure that confidence was rebuilt within the management committee. To improve the quality of the water a suction filter was installed. The system had to be in stalled and tested in time for the first flat meet of the year . The system should also have the capacity to apply a 4mm cycle within an 8hr water window. The Ground Manager wanted the central control moving to his office rather than in the pump house 1km distant.
For Royal Ascot the decision was straightforward Hunter’s DIH (Decoder-In-Head) G995 rotors for the realigned straight and bends and G885D sprinklers to the original part of the track. A Hunter Pilot DH hub was installed in the pump house by the reservoir at the bottom end of the course and this communicated with the Pilot-CC central control via UHF.
The DIH rotors offer total top access to all of the rotor’s internal components due to their exclusive and patented Total Top Servicing (TTS) features. Hunter’s DIH rotors also offer Total Top Programming (TTP) of the decoder’s station address, another patented technology from Hunter. With the unique DIH features, there was no need to disrupt the playing surface in order to access the decoders. The Pilot-DH hub, Pilot-CC central control and UHF communication equipment were delivered to Royal Ascot preprogrammed and tested with a photographic view of the course including the sprinklers installed as a part of the package. Irriplan completed all Ofcom requirements on behalf of the client.
The project was handed over with full training having been given to the ground staff at Royal Ascot plus full GPS plans of the installed irrigation system.