Two million wanted to take synthetic racing surface global

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Ian Pearse says his synthetic racing surface is safer for horses, and can cut training injuries by 70%. He has drawn interest from the US and wants to strengthen his presence there.

By Mike Preston

Every Tuesday ‘Money Wanted’ features a new entrepreneur or inventor pitching their products or services.

Watch Pro-Ride Racing’s video pitch. 

Entrepreneur: Ian Pearse
Industry: Horse racing
Company: Pro-Ride Racing
To: Fund expansion, strengthen US presence

Race horse trainers can lose millions each year through horse injuries. So when Ian Pearse tells them his synthetic track surface makes will cut training injuries by 70%, they’re interested.

His company, Pro-Ride Racing, based in Yarra Glen in Victoria, has developed a track surface made from sand, fibre and a polymetric binding agent that Pearse says is superior to traditional wax-based binders. “It’s unique. We’ve developed and proven it here in Australia and we’re the only ones in the world doing it,” he says.

Pro-ride Racing has put down 14 training tracks in Australia including at Sydney Turf Club’s marquee Rose Hill racecourse.

It is now on the verge of breaking into the lucrative US market, having made the shortlist to provide a track for California’s famous Santa Anita Race Club, Pearse says.

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. “We’ve failed that many times, especially on technology development but we’ve just kept on going; we have a never-say-die attitude,” he says.

In fact, he says, it was one particularly painful failure that led to the development of Pro-ride’s synthetic track technology.

“One of our biggest setbacks was when a track we put down failed. At that time we used a wax-based technology that we thought wouldn’t melt in hot weather, but it did. We had to rectify at great expense, but that led us to develop our polymetric binders, which really separate us from everyone in the world. Doing that was really hard financially, but it turned out to be one of the best things for us,” Pearse says.

As well Pro-Ride’s US prospects, Pearse says there has also been interest from racing authorities and trainers from a range of countries including Venezuela, Chile, France and Japan.

To take advantage of these opportunities, Pro-Ride needs investment to establish a presence outside of Australia.

Pro-Ride is now seeking $2–5 million to fund its expansion, including the establishment of a new US office and an increase in manufacturing volumes. In the longer term, Pearse says, this could mean building plant to take manufacturing in-house.

It is also important that the investor is able to bring industry clout to the table, Pearse says.

“We would love someone very well connected to the top end of track racing in the world. We need someone who can help open those doors and in the racing industry those people exist; it is the sport of kings, after all.”

Contact Ian Pearse on (03) 9730 2036.

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