Essex County Showground, enhanced as an international show jumping facility in recent years, has today (Friday 30 March) announced the next stage development of the Great Leighs site – a state-of-the-art racecourse that is purpose-built for the media-led demands of today’s horseracing.

All necessary planning consents have been obtained for a TV-friendly, one mile-plus oval track, plus a 5,000-seat covered grandstand and members’ terrace uniquely spanning the finish line, incorporating restaurants, hospitality suites and permanent media production studios.

A key feature of Great Leighs Racing will be its on-site training facility for 120 horses. These horses will run in late-morning meetings (prior to the commencementof fixtures elsewhere in the UK), directly pitched at providing picture content for the mushrooming global internet and offshore telephone betting industry.

Great Leighs Racing has briefed the British Horseracing Board of its plans and of its intention to retain control of its own media rights.

Showground owner John Holmes has been working on his this plan since noting the huge impact that IT was likely to have on all sports, particularly those in the gambling sector.

BBC Outside Broadcast Resources are the preferred provider of television facilities for Great Leighs Racing.

BBC OBR’s commercial manager Jeff Boden said: “We are very excited about this project and look forward to the technical challenges that lie ahead.”

John Holmes commented: “Followers of racing don’t need to be told that it is about to go through changes in promotion, control and revenue streams that could not have been imagined 10, maybe even five years ago. Not everyone will likethe results, but there is definitely a demand for the style of operation we plan at Great Leighs. I believe I have the right place at the right time to provide a bespoke solution.”

Existing equestrian activities, including the international jumping show, will continue, coexisting with the racecourse, as equestrian and racing does on the continent.