Coventry & Warwickshire

Warwick Racecourse jumps-only move 'will secure future'

Huw Williams
Image caption Huw Williams said Warwick was better known for its jumps course

Proposals to make Warwick Racecourse an all-jumps course will "secure its racing future", says its manager.

Huw Williams outlined multi-million pound plans to make Warwick one of the UK's "leading small jumps courses".

A move to abandon flat racing has come after the transfer of four fixtures following a horse's death there in May.

Mr Williams said inspectors had not found any safety issues but jockeys' "loss of confidence in parts of track" had contributed to the decision.

On 20 May, Artful Lady had to be put down after falling in the opening race. The meeting was abandoned when jockeys refused to ride beyond the second race after expressing concern about the ground on the home turn, according to course owner Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR).

'Rosier future'

Mr Williams said these events "hastened the decision" to become a jumps-only course, but other factors were taken into account in a consultation involving jockeys, trainers and race-goers.

"It is a long-term decision following a review that has been going on for some time," he said.

Image caption The first race at what is now Warwick racecourse was held in 1707

Mr Williams, Warwick Racecourse general manager, said some residents assumed the course was closed after several meetings were cancelled, but it was hoped the changes would boost the number of race-goers and annual members.

"It gives us a clear focus and identity. It is a huge opportunity." he said.

"It's about securing the racing future and commercial future and it has all got a lot rosier with an all-jump track."

Clerk of the course Suleka Varma pointed out the jump course saw many top quality horses.

In the past five years, Auroras Encore, Ballabriggs, and Don't Push It, all raced at the course before winning the Grand National.

The last flat racing takes place at Warwick on Monday and it becomes jumps-only from 2015.

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