Great Leighs progresses towards racing restart

Great Leighs hospitality suite

Great Leighs hospitality suite

Great Leighs racecourse is making definite strides towards a resumption of racing next year at the course near Chelmsford. Last month the owners MC Racetracks submitted an application to the British Horseracing Authority in the course of the annual fixture process, and recent developments have led them to be hopeful of the thumbs up rather than the rejection suffered a year ago.

Chairman of MC Racetracks Keith Brown said that last year’s bid to host race meetings this year had been turned down largely on technical grounds, and that the company was much better placed this time round. He added that they were planning to raise prize money for 35-45 meetings.

One of the concerns that arose during the 9 months of racing back in 2008 related to floodlighting. A public meeting earlier this year addressed those issues, at which it was suggested that full power lighting would be needed for just 112 minutes during a winter evening seven race card. Between races, the lights would be reduced to 50% power, and they would be turned off after the last race. In most circumstances this would mean the floodlights were off by 2130, although the application to the local council allowed for them to be kept on for a further hour if there were emergency needs such as an accident on the racetrack.

MC Racetracks added that technical developments in the last few years meant that the High Density cameras used for broadcasting could now operate at a lower intensity of lighting. They hoped this, along with the hoods that would be fitted, would allay any concerns.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Chelmsford City Council has yet reach its decision on the floodlighting issue, but it has granted permission for a new 3,500 capacity hospitality suite, which, strangely, will be built on the inside of the track. It will be primarily one storey high so that it doesn’t obscure viewing from the new grandstand, but will feature what is described as a “roof uplift” in the central two-storey part of the building to offer all round viewing on racedays.

Brown said, “We are pleases to be granted planning permission as this fulfils an important condition in relation to our BHA licence.”

It does seem that step-by-step the new owners of Great Leighs are gaining the confidence of all the various bodies that will determine its future. If racing does get the go-ahead again next year, Newmarket trainers in particular will be glad, as the course is only 50 miles away, and will put all weather racing on their doorstep.

Your first 30 days for just £1