Point-to-points saved after high-speed railway forces racecourse closure

  • A new point-to-point course is set to open next year to replace the lost venue of Whitfield.

    Development work on the controversial High Speed 2 (HS2) has spelled the end of racing at Whitfield, in Northamptonshire.

    Organisers of the three pointing fixtures previously held at Whitfield announced today (Tuesday, 25 July) they have “reached an agreement” with the Wills Estates to hold their point-to-points at Edgcote, near Banbury (not pictured).

    The Bicester with Whaddon Chase, Farmers Bloodhounds and Grafton will hold their fixtures at the new venue in 2018. The exact dates are yet to be announced.

    “We are thrilled to be able to announce this news,” said Grafton point-to-point chairman Charles Dixey.

    “Edgcote will make a superb racecourse and we expect it to have some of the finest ground in England.

    Racing will take place on the historic gallops where Edward Courage trained the likes of Royal Relief, Spanish Steps and Tiberetta.

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    HS2’s path

    Whitfield racecourse announced on 1 June that it had been given notice that work will start on the railway this year, meaning the end of its racing fixtures.

    The Northamptonshire venue was opened in 2009 by Brough Scott and Hayley Turner.

    Mr Dixey told H&H last month the racecourse had “looked and squeezed and pushed” but the course cannot be adjusted due to the location of the railway.

    “Sadly it takes the bottom half of the course from the start to the third fence,” he said. “It was utterly impossible.”

    However, hope is far from lost for the British Eventing fixture that runs on the same site.

    Alec Lochore, founder of Musketeer Event Management which organises the horse trials, told H&H he is “hopeful the event will continue”.

    “We are continuing to work with [owner] Martin Clarke and there are hopefully options for us,” he said.

    “We are definitely not at the stage of pressing the panic button or the closure button.”

    He added a lot of money and time has been invested into the event and the organisers are “very much committed”.

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