In line with its Royal Charter commitments to act for the long-term good of British Racing, The Jockey Club’s investment plan aims to support vital aspects of the sport, including contributing record prize money funding for participants, staging popular and enjoyable events around the country using the best quality facilities for horsemen and racegoers, and boosting good causes including horse welfare and the welfare and education of racing’s workforce.
The Jockey Club, which stages many of British Racing’s crown jewel events, including the Cheltenham Festival, the Randox Health Grand National and The Investec Derby Festival, aspires to:
Deliver a series of enhancement projects across all its racecourses and training centres nationwide to benefit horsemen, racegoers and local communities – this includes strengthening the prosperity of Jump racing around the country in consultation with the wider industry
Transform Sandown Park through investment in its facilities, track and race programme, including the staging of the 32Red King George VI Chase, as part of plans to unlock its potential as a thriving dual-code Class 1 racecourse for London and the South East
Create a new purpose-built floodlit all-weather racecourse with the ambition for this to be the best in Europe for horsemen, with Newmarket the front-running location for maximum convenience for Britain’s busiest racehorse training base
Set new records for its contributions to prize money – the lifeblood of the sport
Increase its support for important causes and initiatives in the sport, including equine welfare and the welfare and education of racing’s workforce
The Jockey Club intends to fund its ambitions through its diverse commercial operations and, subject to a successful planning process, redevelopment on its estate at Kempton Park, which has today been submitted for consideration in the local authority’s Local Plan in partnership with Redrow plc.
This follows Spelthorne Borough Council's recent ‘Call for Sites’ to address unmet local housing needs and a decision to undertake a review of its Green Belt boundaries. These combine to provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to promote the site for new homes and local benefits, while preserving green space between the local borough and London.
Such an outcome has been carefully considered by the Stewards of The Jockey Club as in the best long-term interests of British Racing given the benefits for horsemen and racegoers that can be created and with the Surrey community already well-served for racing. If development is permitted, The Jockey Club will be looking to ensure it generates in excess of £100 million for investment in British Racing.
The Jockey Club will also require a new floodlit all-weather course elsewhere in the group to be operational before any changes from current operations at Kempton Park in order to preserve its involvement in this important aspect of the sport and maintain Britain’s total number of racecourses.
Any changes from current operations at Kempton Park are entirely conditional on a successful planning process and it is anticipated that any future development on racecourse land would be from 2021 at the earliest.
The Jockey Club is preparing for a planning application to create a new floodlit all-weather course at the Home of Racing, purpose-built for horsemen on its land at The Links. This site in Newmarket is a front-running option, given the access it provides thousands of horses trained at the world’s premier Training Centre. This would be a new course replacing Kempton Park’s all-weather operations and The Jockey Club would require it to be operational before racing stopped at Kempton Park. The Jockey Club has no intention of converting any of its existing Turf surfaces to all-weather.
If Kempton Park is redeveloped, The Jockey Club would request to stage a select amount of its Jumps programme less than six miles away at sister-track Sandown Park, including the 32Red King George VI Chase. Sandown Park has previously staged the prestigious race, won by One Man (1995) and Kicking King (2005) who both also won it in other years at Kempton Park. The Jockey Club intends to invest significantly in unlocking Sandown Park’s potential, through transforming its customer facilities, deploying the latest technology to enhance aspects such as track drainage, further improvement of its race programme and a greater ability to market itself as London’s premier dual-code racecourse.
In consultation with the British Horseracing Authority and the wider sport, and with a careful review of Turf capacity, the group would look to transfer Kempton Park’s other Jumps fixtures to other Jumps courses it operates around the country – small and large – spreading the benefit of these nationwide and on the back of further investment in those courses in the process.
The Jockey Club's support for Jump racing is national and just some examples over recent years range from its major and ongoing investment in Lambourn as a Training Centre to the decision to secure and invest in Warwick's future as a leading small Jumps course, and its £45 million transformation of facilities at Cheltenham to protecting the future of the Grand National for the nation through its careful stewardship at Aintree.
Roger Weatherby, Senior Steward of The Jockey Club, said:
“The Jockey Club is governed by Royal Charter to act for the long-term good of British Racing. One of the ways we want to live up to that is through a series of projects that offer benefits all around the country and collectively add up to us contributing more than half a billion pounds to the sport over the next decade from its grassroots to top level.
“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.
“Horsemen and customers alike will enjoy the benefit of numerous projects nationwide that result from the record investment proposals we unveil today, which include investments at each of our racecourses and training grounds throughout the country.”
“If changes take place at Kempton Park in the future we will act to secure and invest in the Jumps programme nationally. We will work with the British Horseracing Authority to seek to run some races, including the King George VI Chase, at Sandown Park. We plan to transform Sandown Park's facilities, utilise the latest advances in track technology and help bring a focus on it as London’s premier dual-code racecourse right on the doorstep of millions of people, unlocking what we see as its great potential.
“Furthermore we will look to boost Jump racing from its grassroots to the top-end in consultation with horsemen and the wider industry. This would include Kempton Park's programme being transferred to our Jumps courses around the country and through investments at each track over the next decade – in all four of our Regions, in the North, South West, East as well as London.
“A new purpose-built all-weather course on The Links in Newmarket to replace that at Kempton Park would be ideal for the thousands of horses trained at the Home of Racing and beyond, as well as shortening the working day for racing’s people there. I am also particularly pleased that The Jockey Club will be even better placed in the coming years to provide further support to important causes, such as racing’s welfare and education programmes. As ever our intention is for our sport to benefit to the greatest extent possible.”