Racing will not take place – as had been hoped – at the beleaguered Great Leighs racetrack next year.

MC Racetracks Ltd, a company set up by but no longer owned by Martin Collins of equestrian surfaces fame, took over the Essex course last year.

It had hoped racing would be staged in 2013.

But the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has rejected its bid to hold races yet.

“Although we won’t be discussing concerns publicly, we have offered to provide the racecourse with guidance as to how they might be addressed in future applications,” said the BHA’s Will Lambe.

“When appropriate, they are welcome to apply to be part of the 2014 fixture list.”

Keith Brown, chairman of MC Racetracks Ltd, told H&H he was “disappointed”.

“While we satisfied the BHA on a number of issues – particularly our high-quality racing surface – they need to be satisfied in other aspects,” he said.

The company intends to meet the BHA to resolve issues “so that racing can be resumed at the earliest opportunity”.

Anthony James, chief executive of Great Leighs, explained that MC Racetracks now planned to open the venue in April 2013 with an equestrian event [with jumping, dressage and demos] rather than a race meeting.

He said that a planning application for a complex, including restaurants, bars, lounges and conference rooms will be submitted shortly.

“This will have multi-purpose use for racing and non-racing days,” he said.

The all-weather track near Chelmsford, Britain’s first new course for 81 years, has had a short, and troubled, history.

It was due to open in October 2006, but suffered a series of postponements due to building problems and bad weather.

The track hosted its first race meeting on 20 April 2008, but in January 2009, its original owner, the Essex Showground Group, went into administration.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (14 June 2012)