Hereford and Folkestone racecourses to close at the end of the season

  • There will be no more racing at Hereford or Folkestone racecourses at the end of the 2012 season.

    Owners Arena Leisure and Northern Racing have announced they will cease trading at Hereford for good. Folkestone racecourse will close temporarily and may reopen in the future, subject to ongoing negotiations with the local council in Kent.

    Fixtures will be transferred to other racecourses within the company.

    Managing director Tom Kelly said the decision to close Hereford was taken after attempts to extend the lease – which has 17 years remaining – proved unsuccessful.

    “Despite being unviable for several years, we have supported the racecourse,” he said.

    “But much-needed investment, required to breathe new life into the racecourse, cannot be justified in the absence of a long-term future for the business.”

    He added that proposals to revamp Folkestone’s outdated facilities – which included a residential development – were being discussed with Shepway District Council.

    Every effort to continue trading at these racecourses has been explored, but it is with regret that a variety of circumstances mean this is no longer possible,” said Mr Kelly.

    Derek Thompson of Channel 4 Racing tweeted he was “sad” to hear about the closures. His sentiments were echoed by trainer John Berry, who said he was “very disappointed” by the news.

    Paul Bittar, chief executive of racing’s governing body, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) said that despite the record attendances at race meetings last year, the industry needed modernizing.

    “The fact is that the sport’s financial model remains badly outdated,” he said.

    “This impacts upon racecourses – particularly the smaller ones.”

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