Newmarket is frontrunner for all-weather course to replace Kempton Park
- Credit: Archant
Newmarket is expected to be one of the major beneficiaries of an ambitious 10-year plan unveiled by the Jockey Club to invest at least half a billion pounds into British racing.
If the proposals go ahead, a new purpose-built all-weather course on The Links in Newmarket will replace the historic Kempton Park site in Surrey, which is earmarked for redevelopment.
The Jockey Club hopes to fund a series of initiatives, including the scheme for Newmarket, through selling off the Kempton site for housing.
Newmarket, dubbed the Home of Racing, is seen as the ideal location for the new course as it is already a training centre for thousands of horses, and is therefore seen as a convenient location for the winter course.
The town is currently home to two racecourses, but the new facility would mean that it would be able to host racing all year round.
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Amy Starkey, regional director, Jockey Club Racecourses East Region, who is also a town councillor, said the scheme, if it goes ahead, would further strengthen the town, which is already the world’s biggest horse racing training centre with more than 3,000 horses in training, as a racing venue.
“It’s hugely exciting,” she said.
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“We are still working through the detail of the project at the moemnt, but the investment in Newmarket will be significant.”
Roger Weatherby, senior steward of The Jockey Club, said: “The Jockey Club is governed by Royal Charter to act for the long-term good of British Racing. One of the ways we want to live up to that is through a series of projects that offer benefits all around the country and collectively add up to us contributing more than half a billion pounds to the sport over the next decade from its grassroots to top level.
“We must show leadership with the assets we have and, where merited, take tough decisions to help our sport to keep moving forwards. The decision to submit our estate at Kempton Park for consideration in the Local Plan is unique and has not been taken lightly.
“Our Board of Stewards are horsemen and, having carefully considered what we can achieve in the long-run from doing so, are unanimously of the view that British Racing is better served by us doing so.
“Horsemen and customers alike will enjoy the benefit of numerous projects nationwide that result from the record investment proposals we unveil today, which include investments at each of our racecourses and training grounds throughout the country.”
The Jockey Club hopes, subject to planning permission, to sell the Kempton site and plough funds into a nationwide programme of investments in its racecourses and training grounds around the country.
Under the plans, Sandown Park would also receive major investment “to unlock its potential as London’s Class 1 dual-code racecourse” on the doorstep of millions of people.
The club also hopes to invest record sums into prize money.