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Essex: Turf racing plans for Chelmsford City Racecourse

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.

Turf racing could be coming to an Essex racecourse as new plans are revealed by the venue’s owner.

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The Chelmsford City Racecourse, at Great Leighs, is being redeveloped after its previous owner went into administration in early 2009 and fixtures are due to resume at the all-weather track in January.

However Phil Siers, general manager of Great Leighs Estates Ltd, has unveiled ambitions to develop a turf track inside the existing all-weather surface.

Construction has already started on a new grandstand in the centre of the course thanks to investment from the company which now owns the venue, headed up by Betfred founder Fred Done.

The turf course has not yet been laid out and racing would not take place on it until at least 2016.

Industry experts have indicated any turf track placed inside the existing all-weather surface would be quite a tight circuit, but could be a welcome addition to the British racing calendar.

The racecourse management has announced an ambition to host up to 80 meetings next year, including the 12 start-up fixtures given to it by the British Horseracing Authority.

Mr Siers said some of those fixtures could be at times where not many other meetings are held, such as Sunday afternoons, Thursday evenings and possibly Saturday mornings, in a move which would benefit the betting industry.

Other plans include a higher prize money offering in a bid to attract bigger names to race at the circuit.

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