New racecourse plan expands

A GRAND design for a major racecourse for Essex has expanded by 80 acres as anticipation rises for a 'world class' track. The Great Leighs development is set to open in 2006 and will see horseracing on an all-weather track at the 165-acre Essex County Showground.

A GRAND design for a major racecourse for Essex has expanded by 80 acres as anticipation rises for a 'world class' track.

The Great Leighs development is set to open in 2006 and will see horseracing on an all-weather track at the 165-acre Essex County Showground.

The newly acquired land is to be used for additional parking and paddocks for the racehorse training yard.

The site near Chelmsford is on target to become the first new track in Britain since Taunton opened in 1927.


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The grandstand design has been finalised and will be feature 42 hospitality boxes, a 1200-seater banqueting suite and a 750-seater restaurant with views of the course.

Backers hope the scheme could also result in the revival of the Essex County Show which has not taken place since 2000.

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The owner, John Holmes, said the new developments would have a positive effect on the local area and track visitors.

He said: “The extra car parking eliminates the chance of tailbacks on major racing days, which is good for the locality and means that visitors won't have memories of sitting in a queue.

“The potential of Great Leighs to British horseracing is considerably greater than we once dared hope. The viability of any new track lies in creating a destination where other leisure and business activities take place.”

The British Horseracing Board (BHB) has also announced its 'world class' expectations for the course in its annual report.

In June the BHB confirmed that the £40 million development will be given preference over competitors for nine years after its launch and guaranteed 16 “national” status meets per year.

BHB chief executive Greg Nichols said: “We look forward to its world-class track design and facilities adding further diversity and reaping commercial reward.”

The target opening date for the development is January 2006.

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