Major course saved after defence secretary steps in

  • Larkhill racecourse has been saved, following the intervention of defence secretary Ben Wallace.

    H&H reported last month that the course would close after this season, unless the Ministry of Defence should reconsider its decision to end the lease (news, 20 October).

    Larkhill is a key venue in the British point-to-point calendar and its significance reaches far beyond pointing. Its links extend through the wider racing, equestrian and thoroughbred industries, as well as to local and rural communities. As such, the news of Larkhill’s uncertain future was met with deep concern.

    But news broke over the weekend that the Rt Hon Mr Wallace had stepped in.

    A source said: “It was drawn to the defence secretary’s attention by an article in the media. Until then, he was unaware of this short-sighted decision. He has directed officials to renew the lease with immediate effect.”

    Said Andrew Ritchie, chairman of Larkhill racecourse committee: “We are immensely grateful to the secretary of state for his intervention to save Larkhill racecourse by directing that a new lease be renewed with immediate effect. We would like to thank all those who have helped to achieve this brilliant result for the local, racing and military communities.”

    Point-to-Point Authority chief executive Peter Wright told H&H he is “delighted to hear that Larkhill is no longer under threat”.

    “My thanks to the military for their continuing support for this great venue,” he said. “Without it, our sport would have struggled.”

    Polly Portwin, director of the Countryside Alliance’s campaign for hunting, added: “This is incredibly promising news, and we thank the defence secretary for recognising the important place Larkhill racecourse has in the hearts of many people across the countryside and its value to the sport of point-to-pointing.

    “For many years the races have united local army families and the rural community. Long may racing continue at Larkhill.”

    The Wiltshire venue is also home to a British Eventing fixture, plus many unaffiliated and military horse sport activities.

    A statement on the Larkhill Eventing Facebook page on 6 November said they are “hopeful” this development will result in a renewed licence for Larkhill Eventing “to take us beyond 2023”.

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...