Great Leighs applies to host races in 2014

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Great Leighs bids for racing return

The owners of Great Leighs racecourse have submitted an application to host races, four years after its closure.

The Essex all-weather course was the first horse racing venue to open in Britain in 81 years when it put on its first card in April 2008.

Owners MC Racetracks are hoping to hold 35 to 45 races per year from 2014.

"I think we're very close to seeing racing in about a year's time," chairman of the venue Keith Brown told BBC Look East.

The application to the British Horseracing Authority will be lodged this week.

Great Leighs was initially open for less than a year, between April 2008 and January 2009, but the course went into administration and had its racing licence revoked.

New owners were not found until November 2011, when MC Racetracks came in.

Managers at the flat track facility near Chelmsford had a fresh application for racing denied last year, but will find out in April whether their current bid is successful.

"We have to make sure this is a viable proposition for the future. The BHA does not want to see racing fail at Great Leighs again," added Brown.

"It's more challenging than with an existing racecourse. The hoops we have to go through are much narrower and higher than a standard racecourse has to go through these days.

"We fully understand that in order to join the party we have to show we have the guts and determination and finance to make it work."