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Great Leighs: Newly named Chelmsford City racecourse could host meets next year after fixture approval given

18:30 29 April 2014

Great Leighs Racecourse

Great Leighs Racecourse

An Essex racecourse which has been silent since 2009 could once again hear the noise of shouting punters and galloping hoofs.

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Great Leighs RacecourseGreat Leighs Racecourse

That’s because the former Great Leighs Racecourse has been granted permission by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to enter the fixture allocation process for 2015.

The venue became the first new course in Britain for 81 years when it opened in April 2008 but shut just nine months later when the owning companies were put into administration.

But now the course looks set to get back on track after being bought last year by Great Leighs Estates Limited.

The company was formed by Betfred owner Fred Done with partners SIS (Satellite Information Services) and Bet Solutions International.

They have renamed the all-weather track Chelmsford City Racecourse and are confident it will host races next year.

Mr Done said: “I am delighted that we will race in 2015 and I look forward to seeing Chelmsford City Racecourse welcoming the racing public, at what will surely be the best all weather racing venue in the UK.”

Gary Smith, chief executive of SIS and a GLEL shareholder, added: “We are delighted that we have the BHA support to move ahead in 2015.

“We became a partner in this exciting new course because we wanted to ensure that the British horseracing and betting public will be able to enjoy easily accessible, high quality coverage of the outstanding programme of all-weather fixtures being planned for Chelmsford City.”

Ruth Quinn, director of racing for the BHA, said the course had “met all of the criteria for new and converted racecourses” and had subsequently “been granted permission to join the 2015 fixture allocation process.

But she added: “This should not be interpreted as a guarantee or indication of an expansion of all-weather fixtures or the overall fixture List in order to accommodate new fixtures.

“We continue to develop the fixture allocation process, part of which involves determining customer demand for fixtures and the scope of the horse population to meet such demand.”

David Burch, director of policy at Essex Chamber of Commerce, said the course’s revival would be a boost to both they city and the county.

“We would very much welcome the reopening of Chelmsford City racecourse and we welcome the fact they have been granted a license,” Mr Burch said.

“There’s the opportunity for people to fly in (to Southend Airport) from other parts of the UK or abroad.

“We think it’s a very positive thing and I’m sure it will benefit Chelmsford itself and a wider area.”

Former owner of the course John Holmes said: “I am delighted that the British Horseracing Authority are supporting the return of racing to Chelmsford City Racecourse at Great Leighs.

“I believe this is the best all weather track in Europe. It successfully staged 48 quality race meetings until locking horns with RBS in 2008.

“The racing fraternity will be thrilled to see the return of racing and I wish the new consortium every success.”

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