Fans of all-weather racing could have a new destination to head for following plans for a £4million all-weather track at Newbury Racecourse.
The popular course, renowned for the quality of its national hunt, as well as flat racing fixtures, could be in business with the new track by January 2004 if the British Horseracing Board and the local planning authorities agree.
The racecourse, which hosted 17,000 spectators at the weekend’s Hennessy Gold Cup fixture, suffered losses of £30,000 a time after the cancellation of several meetings due to bad weather last winter.
On the doorstep of the Lambourn Valley, the British home of jump racing, and just a stone’s throw from the training ground of the great flat hero Mill Reef, at Kingsclere, Newbury has a rich racing heritage.
The course is also set for a substantial cash injection with plans for a housing development on the perimeter set to yield up to £9million.
Mark Kershaw, managing director of the course said that plans for the new track, which would run inside the existing oval course, would be submitted to the BHB by this Friday.
He said: “We are registering our interest and we have got what we feel is the best layout we can get for the track.”
He added: “We want to be able to offer the best facilities and racing in the country. An all-weather track would round it all off.”