Kempton Park Racecourse to become Housing Development
It has emerged that the Jockey Club plans to sell Kempton Park Racecourse following the local council’s appeal for sites on which new homes could be built. It is rather shocking to hear that this famous racecourse, home of the King George VI Chase, will be sold off and that racing there will cease in 2021 if the plans go ahead.
An Investment in Horse Racing
The Jockey Club hopes to receive in excess of £100 million for the site. The money could then will be used to invest in British racing. The organisation intends to invest as much as £500 million into the sport over the course of the next decade.
The clubs decision to sell the racecourse was not taken lightly. This move was thought to be in the best interests of racing in this country. Apparently the board of stewards are unanimous in their view that the sale of the course would be the best way forward. The local racing fans probably would not agree.
Sandown to Benefit
The plan is to move the King George VI Chase to nearby Sandown. But that race isn’t the only issue. There are regular race meetings at Kempton which also hosts a variety of other non-equestrian events including collectors’ fairs, exhibitions and a large firework display for bonfire night each year. However, the race course’s close proximity to the busy M3 motorway and the A316, which is a major route into central London, means that such events invariably result in enormous disruptions to the traffic in the area.
Future Plans for Racing
If the racecourse is sold what will happen to the money?
The Jockey Club is planning a variety of projects including improvements to the track and facilities at Sandown. They also are planning a new floodlit all-weather course at Newmarket. This would replace the all-weather track at Kempton Park and would be an important resource for the many horses trained in the area.
Money will also be spent on increasing the prize funds on offer to encourage further overseas investment. Projects related to equine and human welfare will also receive investment. The British Horse Racing Authority (BHA) has said that it understands the reasons for the sale of the racecourse. They will work with the Jockey Club to protect the long term interests of the sport.
Kempton Park will not be sold for development unless the sale can raise at least £100 million and that plans to build the all-weather track at Newmarket are approved. There is opposition to the Jockey Club’s intention to sell in the racing community. The leader of Spelthorne Borough Council, Ian Harvey, opposes the redevelopment of the racecourse.
The sale may yet be foiled. However, if it does go ahead it will be a sad day for many racing enthusiasts.