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Chelmsford: Boost for Great Leighs racecourse revival hopes headed by Fred Done of Betfred as 12 new fixtures announced

PUBLISHED: 10:02 15 July 2014 | UPDATED: 10:02 15 July 2014

The first public meeting at the Great Leighs Racecourse, as it was then known, back in 2008.

The first public meeting at the Great Leighs Racecourse, as it was then known, back in 2008.

Chelmsford City racecourse has been approved allocation of 12 ‘start-up’ racedays for next year by the British Horseracing Authority.

The currently closed venue at Great Leighs in Essex has been purchased by a syndicate headed by Fred Done of Betfred, and is to be renamed with a view to reopening in 2015.

Chelmsford City can then apply for further BHA controlled fixtures via the annual fixture allocation process.

After its latest meeting, the BHA board has also informed Arena Racing Company that any of Newcastle’s exiting Flat Turf meetings can be transferred to their new proposed all-weather track.

The fixtures total in 2015 is set to be similar to the 1,464 of 2014, while consultation on various topics is still ongoing.

Ruth Quinn, director of racing for BHA, said: “Firstly, we would like to place on record our appreciation for the level of participation and constructive engagement in the consultation process, including the wide range of suggestions for opportunities to improve field sizes.

“A number of factors raised in the consultation were taken into account by the executive and board when determining what the overall size of the fixture list should be.

“These included general concern over the number of small field races and the support of the majority of respondents for maintaining the size of the fixture list.

“Meanwhile, consultation will continue on the allocation of BHA controlled fixtures and initiatives to address small field sizes, including a possible reduction in the number of total races run in the overall race programme, as proposed by BHA in the consultation document.”

Tony Kelly, ARC managing director, said: “We welcome the continued support the BHA is showing for the development of the all-weather track at Newcastle.

“While we agree with the BHA’s decision announced today to maintain the current size of the fixture list, we are unconvinced that there has been a full analysis of the financial impact a cut in race numbers would have on all within British Racing.

“ARC would like to work with the BHA on developing positive initiatives that can be used to address small field sizes, rather than see the focus remain on shrinking British racing.

“In 2010 there was a transparent and fair bidding process for the allocation of leasehold fixtures. It remains ARC’s clear belief that this is the best method as it offers the most straight forward method of increasing prize money for horsemen and allowing racecourse to compete fairly.

“We look forward to continuing to engage directly, and via the RCA, with the BHA, and all British racing’s stakeholders as this process continues.”

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