Racecourse to submit hospitality suite plans

Braintree and Witham Times

Plans to build a hospitality complex are still going ahead at Great Leighs Racecourse – despite a bid to host horseracing in 2013 bring turned down.

Tony James, Chief Executive of current owners MC Racetracks, said the BHA’s decision not to include Great Leighs in next year’s racing calendar would not affect the venue’s future plans.

A planning application for a complex – including restaurants, bars, lounges and conference rooms – will be submitted in the next fortnight.  Mr James said: “I think that it does is just delay things – its just putting things back.  Our plans are still going ahead.”

Antique fairs and horticulture events are also planned, the first of which is due to be held in April.  There are also plans to host the Essex County Show, which was previously held at Great Leighs, but ceased in 2001 following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Mr James said “we have formed a committee and they are looking at a feasibility study to start the show in the summer of 2013.  From what I hear from the people who are doing the feasibility study, they have got great ideas and support.”  Mr James said “We were hoping we would be opening with a race event, but we have provisionally booked 32 non-racing events next year.”

The company is also “interested” in the possibility of creating new jobs.  He said “Any event that takes place needs temporary staff.  We are planning on talking to Braintree Council about it in July.”

Mr James said MC Racetracks would be assessing how much money would have to be lost due to the fixture delay over the next two or three months.  It has had to put on hold a media deal with betting broadcasters Betsi, which was going to provide £2.5million in prize money.

MC Racetracks chairman Keith Brown said: “We intend to seek an early meeting with the BHA to resolve the outstanding matters before making a new application so that racing can be resumed at Great Leighs at the earliest opportunity.”  Essex Racing Club manager Barry Root said: “It would have been nice to be racing next year, but 2014 is more likely to be a start date than 2013.”


Written by Laura Walkinshaw


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