Administrators called in at Essex racetrack

THE future of an Essex racecourse is uncertain today after administrators were called in.

James Hore

THE future of an Essex racecourse is uncertain today after administrators were called in.

Administrators Deloitte have been called in at Great Leighs, Britain's newest racetrack, and say they will be “assessing'' the group to determine the best outcome for its creditors.

"We will continue to work with existing management and key business partners to continue to trade the business in the short term,'' Deloitte said.

"We are currently in discussions with the sport's regulatory body, the BHA, in respect of securing the course's racing licence and ability to continue to trade as a going concern while we investigate the opportunity of a sale.''

Punters were left frustrated on Thursday evening when racing at Great Leighs was cancelled after the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) revoked its licence.

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The �30million track, between Braintree and Chelmsford, had been operating under a temporary permission during January whilst it goes through a “restructuring” process.

However the six-race card on Thursday was scrapped when the BHA committee declined to grant a further licence.

The all-weather track has been holding race meetings under its floodlights every Thursday night and was set to continue with this until early April.

But the decision by the BHA has thrown the future events into doubt and next week's meeting is also off.

An application will be made to the BHA on Monday for permission for racing to resume again but the meeting will not be until January 29 at the earliest now.

Great Leighs opened to the public at the end of May last year about 18 months later than originally planned following a series of construction delays.

It was the first new course to open in Britain for more than 80 years.

However the track's new flood lights led to complaints from some people in the surrounding villages who claimed it was too bright.

Special hoods were shipped in from America to force light onto the track instead of into the Essex night.

A statement on www.britishhorseracing.com explained: “The racecourse managing executive has been operating under temporary licences since January 1, 2009, the latest of which expired at midnight on January 15, 2009.

“An application at the hearing was made for a new temporary licence to operate until the end of January.

“The committee declined to grant a further temporary licence.

“The effect is that, unless and until a new application is made and is successful, there is no licence in place for racing at Great Leighs.

“The racing department of the British Horseracing Authority are dealing with the fixture list and racing administration consequences of this.”

The reasons for declining the application have not been revealed but it is understood the meeting may now be transferred to Kempton.

Pippa Cuckson, director of communications, said: “We are going through a restructuring process at the moment and as part of that we were operating under a temporary licence.

“We successfully ran four fixtures this month under a temporary licence but the process has taken longer than we hoped.

“We applied for an extension to cover the next two but were told we had not supplied enough information.

“Because of the timing for entries, we have lost next Thursday's fixture.

“We are back at the BHA on Monday with a view to resuming racing from January 29.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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