British horseracing commercial group The Jockey Club has today (Tuesday) said that it could sell off its Kempton Park racecourse in order to help raise £500m (€574.2m/$608.6m) for reinvestment into the sport.
Under the proposed plans, Kempton would make way for housing, while a new, all-weather racing venue would be built at Newmarket. However, the group said the new course would have to be fully operational before racing stopped at Kempton.
In a statement, the group said it intends to contribute £500m to British racing over the next decade through a national programme of investments that are “designed to benefit the sport, its participants and racegoers”.
The Jockey Club said the funds would go towards ensuring that British racing can offer record prize money, be capable of staging top-level events, maintain a high quality of facilities and also boost the welfare and knowledge of the sport’s workforce.
However, the redevelopment will only go ahead if more than £100m is raised from the sale of Kempton Park and the new racecourse is also given the green light. Racing will remain until at least 2021, regardless of whether the project secures approval.
Should the Kempton Park redevelopment project be given the green light, The Jockey Club would request a number of jumps programmes that currently take place at the racecourse be relocated to alternate venues. These would include the showpiece King George VI Chase moving to Sandown Park, a racecourse that previously staged the race in 1995 and 2005. The Jockey Club would also invest in Sandown as part of the wider development plans.
Roger Weatherby, senior steward of The Jockey Club, said: “We must show leadership with the assets we have and, where merited, take tough decisions to help our sport to keep moving forwards. The decision to submit our estate at Kempton Park for consideration in the Local Plan is unique and has not been taken lightly.
“Our board of stewards are horsemen and, having carefully considered what we can achieve in the long-run from doing so, are unanimously of the view that British racing is better served by us doing so.”