Research & Development Programme

James Ewart


2017 Arc De Triomphe Winner Enable winning at Newcastle


Tapeta is a Thoroughbred Racing and Training surface comprised of a carefully selected mixture of the finest silica sand, wax and fibres that have been extensively researched and simulate the root structure of turf. Tapeta has been tried and tested in all climates at Training and Racetracks around the world. Tapeta handles wet weather and heavy rainfall extremely well.


The Tapeta Training track at James Ewart's yard in Scotland can receive over 100 inches of rain a year and has never lost a days training due to rainfall, while the Tapeta training track at Tapeta Farm in Maryland received over 11 inches of rain in 12 hours from Hurricane Floyd, again without interupting training. A Tapeta track copes with short heavy deluges as well as persistant rain over a long period very well.

Tapeta has been extensively praised by Racehorse Trainers and Racetrack Owners in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. The consistency, safety and simplicity of Tapeta place it at the top of the world’s rankings and many of the world’s best Thoroughbred’s train and race on Tapeta. Among others to have all raced and or trained on Tapeta are racing superstars such as:

  • Da Hoss (Breeders Cup Mile 1996 & 1998)
  • Tapit (Wood Memorial Grade 1 2004)
  • Animal Kingdom (Dubai World Cup 2013)
  • Shared Belief (Multiple Graded Sakes 2013-2015)
  • Prince Bishop (Dubai World Cup 2015)
  • Jack Hobbs (Irish Derby 2015)
  • Enable (Winner of the Arc De Triomphe 2017)
  • Thunder Snow ($10m Dubai World Cup 2018)
  • Benbatle ($6m Dubai Turf 2018)

There are numerous examples of Champion Dirt racehorses training on Tapeta because of its kinder nature. The multiple Graded Stakes winner Shared Belief did most of his training on Tapeta. Immediately after he had won Grade 1 races at Santa Anita and Del Mar, he was on a van for an 8 hour journey back to Golden Gate Fields to train on Tapeta for his next race.

The USA sent 3 Grade 1 winning dirt horses to run in the Dubai World Cup in 2015 on dirt. They finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th in exactly the same order you would expect them to finish if the race had been run at Santa Anita, but they were beaten by the 8 year old Prince Bishop who had never trained on the dirt in his life and had only trained on Tapeta.

Tapeta has also been used by the United States Eventing Team as part of their training for the Olympic Games.


Since the original Tapeta Racetracks were built at Presque Isle Downs and Golden Gate Fields in 2007, Tapeta Footings has continuously strived to improve the Tapeta surface. At the forefront of that research is the safety of both horse and rider.

A substantial research and development programme has been in place for over 20 years utilizing the Tapeta Farm training surface and laboratory. The current Tapeta version, Tapeta 10, is the result of 10 years of dedicated study of the impact of training Thoroughbred racehorses on surfaces around the world in many different climatic conditions.

Tapeta Footings continues to improve the Tapeta surface to make training and racing as safe as possible for the Thoroughbred racehorse. Our research will not stop at Tapeta 10 and we are currently working towards Tapeta 11. We encourage potential customers of Tapeta to visit Tapeta tracks and our Laboratory to witness our efforts to improve our surface.


Woodbine (Tapeta) .63%
All Synthetic Surfaces1.1%
Turf 1.36%
Dirt 1.74%

Source: USA Jockey Club Injury Database



The most important benefit of using Tapeta over all other surface materials is safety. Originally designed for the safety of horses and riders, the specifically designed cushioned surface of Tapeta leads to fewer injuries to both horses and thus riders. The kinder surface is more forgiving to forelimbs and provides better stability for the hind-end of horses. US Jockey Club data from the Equine Injury Database for 2009-2016;

A study by Dr. Pratt, who has studies the Beyer Mechanical properties of racetrack surfaces around the world for 25 years, concluded that horses working on a Tapeta surface will experience 50% less concussion impact than horses working on a conventional dirt surface.*


The very limited kickback of Tapeta results in less coughing from horses post race and less facial injuries to jockeys. This reduced kickback also makes horse races fairer, by not favoring just those that possess early speed. The limited kickback ensures that all horses have as fair a chance to compete unlike dirt tracks, where those who get behind early often have no chance because of the constant spray of sand in their faces.


The special composition of Tapeta and its drainage system allows for excellent vertical drainage. With Tapeta, the track operators have ability to bank turns to further enhance equine well being and performance. Our carefully constructed maintenance schedule is easy to follow and will be provided to Tapeta clients to ensure you keep your Tapeta track in excellent condition. Because Tapeta is synthetic, track operators find their maintenance costs are reduced for capital expenditure and labor hours.


Tapeta is environmentally friendly both to the equine athletes and jockeys that perform on the surface. The reduced kickback has been scientifically proven to enable competitors to breathe clean air whilst training and racing.


Once a client purchases a Tapeta track, Tapeta Footings remain in constant dialogue with the Superintendent/Clerk of the Course of the new track to ensure they are happy with their new surface. The Owners of the company Michael and Joan, together with Quality Control Manager Miguel will visit the track regularly and always be available for advice.


By installing an effective drainage system and enabling the training and racing surface to cope with the climatic conditions it will face, fewer training and racing days will be lost. Horsemen will be able to train their horses in almost all weather conditions and racing will be able to take place as scheduled, ensuring no financial loss of income to the track operator.


By ensuring that fewer abandonments of both training and racing occur and by reducing equine injuries, a Tapeta surface encourages great field sizes occur on Tapeta tracks. Tapeta also removes the possibility of a post position draw bias, so often associated with turf racing. Furthermore, by providing a fairer surface for the equine athlete, closer finishes are more likely than on dirt racing. This in turn leads to improved betting handle and turnover for the track operator.

Click here to read the recent article on Thoroughbred Racing Commentary
on the merits of Tapeta.