Tapeta is a synthetic racing surface, akin to Polytrack, which consists of a trademarked mixture of silica sand, wax and rubber fibres laid to a depth of several inches above a tough, woven fabric membrane or a layer of asphalt. Tapeta is specifically designed to mimic the root structure of turf and, as such, produces a unbiased racing surface, which produces little or no kickback and copes well with wet weather.
Tapeta was the brainchild of Michael Dickinson – best known in Britain for saddling the first five finishers in the 1983 Cheltenham – who set about creating a kinder, more forgiving alternative to dirt on which to train his horses. He designed and laid the first version of Tapeta at his purpose-built Tapeta Farm in 1997 and, in 2005, formed Tapeta Footings Inc, which now has offices on both sides of the Atlantic.
Continued research and development has led to numerous iterations of Tapeta, which has been widely adopted by racecourses worldwide, including Wolverhampton, Newcastle and, most recently, Southwell in Britain. Martin Cruddace, Chief Executive of Arena Racing Company (ARC), which owns Southwell Racecourse, said that replacing the existing Fibresand surface with Tapeta represented ‘another significant step forward’.