Buyer found for Essex racecourse

AN ESSEX racecourse that is currently in administration could be under new ownership by the end of next week after it was confirmed a buyer for the track has been found.

Roddy Ashworth

AN ESSEX racecourse that is currently in administration could be under new ownership by the end of next week after it was confirmed a buyer for the track has been found.

Racing has not taken place at Great Leighs Racecourse, on the former Essex showground site near Braintree, since January when it lost its licence from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

Administrators Deloitte have reached an agreement with Terry Chambers, the owner of a polo club in Great Cranfield, with the deal set to be completed by the end of next week.

Carlton Siddle, joint administrator and Deloitte partner, said: “We have entered into an exclusivity agreement with Terry Chambers, the owner of Ashfields Carriage and Polo Club in Essex, to purchase the Great Leighs racing complex.

“We aim to exchange contracts on Friday, May 15.

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“Assuming that the contracts are exchanged, then responsibility for resolving any outstanding issues around the site and for obtaining a racing licence for Great Leighs will pass to the new owner.”

Great Leighs Racecourse was developed and owned by entrepreneur John Holmes and his son Jonathan and opened amid much fanfare in April, 2008.

Yesterday, prospective purchaser Mr Chambers said: “I have been a friend of John Holmes for some years and supporter of the racecourse since its earliest days.

“Having seen the struggle to create it, and how much it was appreciated by the racing industry, I could not stand by and see the hard work of John and his team come to nothing.

“Without setbacks it was a good business, generating money for racing. It can be a good business again.

“Securing Great Leighs is one thing but there is still a lot of work to do, but with goodwill all round, the licence can be achieved and seamless racing can return through 2009 and beyond.”

However, Paul Struthers, media relations manager for the BHA, said: “We are aware of the news of a potential buyer for assets currently owned by companies within the Great Leighs group of companies, which is in administration.

“However, as far as issues related to racing at the Great Leighs racecourse are concerned, the situation remains unchanged.

“We have not received a licence application and will not speculate on whether or not Great Leighs will be able to partake in the 2010 fixture process.”