Great Leighs at Last
Updated: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 11:37 AM
Posted: Monday, April 14, 2008 3:15 PM
The first new racecourse to open in Britain since 1928 is finally meant to stage a race meeting, April 20, over 18 months late.
Great Leighs, which has a Polytrack surface, was meant to come into being back in October 2006 but various delays, most involving planning and construction, have occurred.
The racecourse, in the county of Essex and not far from the major racing center of Newmarket, will still not be fully ready April 20 and the first six race days will take place with no general admission.
Instead, owners, trainers, and invited guests will comprise the initial audiences. The first paying customers are due to be admitted May 28. Even then, there will be a temporary rather than permanent grandstand in place.
However, the first official trials of the racing surface, an eight-and-a-half furlong left-handed circuit, April 13 went well.
Trainer Ed Dunlop, best known for his handling of star filly Ouija Board, commented: "I was very impressed with the racecourse. The jockeys who rode for me [Stephen Donohoe and Tom McLoughlin] were happy with the track.
"Obviously, not of all the racecourse is finished yet, and there are things that need ironing out. But I was happy to bring the horses and glad I came. Great Leighs will be a huge asset."
There are separate chute starts each for races over seven furlongs and a mile. The Polytrack is 22 meters wide with a safety factor of 16 horses. A turf track will be seeded on the inside at some point in the future.
Great Leighs will race year round and has floodlights to operate evening racing during the winter.
There have been talks with the Breeders’ Cup about the staging of a major Breeders’ Cup trial fixture in September at Great Leighs.
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