Two major racecourses, Lingfield Park in Surrey and the Curragh in Ireland, are to undergo major refurbishment of their facilities in response to growing demand from heavy schedules and eager racegoers.
Planning permission has been granted for the main grandstand at Lingfield Park to receive a complete overhaul. Work on the £5m project has already begun, and is a move that is much needed, according to Arena Leisure, the course’s owner.
“The Polytrack [all-weather surface] has been very successful,” explains Kate Hills from Arena Leisure’s racing division, “and with the course’s profile rising every season, the grandstand was falling behind.”
The front of the main stand, which includes the viewing restaurant and corporate boxes, is to be rebuilt. New TV screens, furniture and air conditioning will be incorporated into the redesign.
In 2004, Lingfield is expected to be Britain’s busiest racecourse, with 92 fixtures. Funds for the development have been made available from Arena Leisure’s capital investment budget.
The grandstand will be opened in time for the Lingfield Derby and Oaks Trial meeting on 8 May.
Meanwhile a generous multi-million-Euro donation by the Aga Khan has enabled the Curragh, home to Ireland’s Turf Club, to redevelop its grandstand.
“The enormity of the gift reflects the esteem His Highness has for the Turf Club, the Curragh and Irish racing,” says Raymond Rooney, senior steward at the Turf Club.