Racing on The Mall — could the sport of kings be held outside Buckingham Palace?

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  • Plans are being drawn up to bring horse racing to the streets of London.

    The capital has a fair few racecourses on its outer fringes, but several proposals have mooted the idea of laying a temporary racetrack in the city centre.

    Johnno Spence is in talks about potentially holding a fixture in London as early as this year under his City Racing venture.

    “We are looking at an international thoroughbred racing city centre-based series, which would launch in London hopefully this year,” he told H&H.

    Mr Spence was keen to stress that the welfare of horses would be a priority.

    “This is not the Palio — it will be very much under the Rules of racing and obviously the welfare of the horse is absolutely number one,” he added.

    “It is incredibly exciting — it has taken a long time and a huge amount of planning, years and years.”

    He said that more information will be available towards the end of March and that the idea is about attracting a “new audience to racing”.

    Meanwhile, global sport and entertainment company CSM is also hoping to launch its world-wide series in 2018.

    CSM is working with consultants Oakwell Capital on their bid and are in discussions with private investors and cities across the world, with more information to come soon.

    City racingEntrepreneurs Olly Neil and Andy King have created and patented a racing track-system that can be laid and removed in “record time”.

    The modular system has adjustable feet to ensure a smooth, level and constant racing surface.

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    “The plan is to create a city horse racing world series that will visit six global cities each year — including a grand finale where the champion jockey will be crowned,” said Mr King.

    Mr Owen added the 1.4km track is like a “giant Scalextrics” in the way it can be adjusted, built and moved.

    City racing

    He told H&H that London would be a “fantastic venue” and they have surveyed Constitution Hill and The Mall as possible locations. He was also keen to stress that safety and welfare would be at the forefront of their plans.

    The early proposals include seating for 10,000 spectators as well as big screens, LED boards and a spectator app that allows visitors to track the position of “their” horse.

    “LED wrist bands on spectators will change colour as the horses pass and will flash with the winning silks,” said Mr Owen. “Adding to the whole experience will be a programme of entertainment featuring music and lights.”

    Mr Neil added: “We’re going to do for horse racing what Twenty20 has done for cricket and 3×3 for basketball – reinterpreting the sport of kings for a young urban audience and dialling up on technology, entertainment, excitement and energy.”

    A spokesman for the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) told H&H that any proposal such as this would require its approval.
    Clearly there are significant issues, including both logistical and welfare-related, that would need to be addressed before any application could be progressed,” he said.

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