Great Leighs: New company to reapply for licence at Essex track

Great Leighs is to apply for a licence in the hope of staging racing again at the Essex track in 2015 - more than six years after it first closed.

The British Horseracing Authority rejected an application from existing owners MC Racetracks Limited in June.

But a new company - Tote Media Limited - has been formed, involving Betfred, SIS and Bet Solutions International.

And they now plan to hold fixtures under the new guise of Chelmsford City Racecourse.

Great Leighs became the first new racecourse to open in the United Kingdom since 1927 when it started to operate in April 2008, having since ceded that tag to Welsh track Ffos Las.

The nation's racetracks

  • Since the closure of Folkestone and Hereford in 2012, there have been 59 racecourses operating in the UK.
  • The vast majority are in England, while there are five courses in Scotland (Ayr, Hamilton Park, Kelso, Musselburgh and Perth) and three in Wales (Bangor-on-Dee, Chepstow and Ffos Las).

But it lasted only nine months, before going into administration in January 2009, since when there has been more than one false dawn.

But the all-weather Polytrack circuit, based near Braintree, 10 miles to the north of Chelmsford, remains in decent condition and the new management intends to focus upon the construction of a grandstand as well as leisure and betting facilities.

A statement from Tote Media Limited said that the track "is expected to run a regular high quality self-funded racing programme and will apply to the BHA in January for a licence and entry into the 2015 fixture allocation process".

Joe Scanlon, director of racing at Betfred, has been appointed chairman of the racecourse.

"I'm delighted that a new joint venture company has acquired the assets of Great Leighs," he said. "The track is ideally placed for Newmarket's training centre whilst the surrounding area has a total catchment in excess of three million people.

BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey said: "BHA has been notified of the proposed change of ownership at Great Leighs and has had preliminary discussions with the team concerned.

"The racecourse is currently unlicensed. There is an existing timeframe for applications to be made to the BHA board for new racecourses to enter the next fixture allocation process.

"Any applications would need to be submitted by the end of January in order to be considered for participation in the 2015 fixture list."