• Horse Racing

Newcastle racecourse owners consider all-weather upgrade

ESPN staff
December 6, 2013
If plans are eventually approved, Newcastle could boast the world's first floodlit straight mile © PA Photos

Newcastle racecourse could introduce an all-weather flat track after owners Arena Racing Company (ARC) announced talks are ongoing to redevelop the North East course.

ARC stated it hoped to lodge a planning application for the renovations by January 31 which, if they are passed, could mean all-weather flat racing could be introduced as early as 2015.

Current plans are based around replacing the existing turf flat track - which holds the Northumberland Plate - with an all-weather surface, although the development would still give the course the option of holding its showpiece race on grass.

The plans would also see the incorporation of the world's only floodlit straight mile. If plans are passed, the upgrade opens the possibility of more jumps meets being added to the season's fixture list; flat racing could then be held over the winter months on the all-weather terrain.

"We are very excited by these proposals," Newcastle racecourse executive director David Williamson said. "We want to explain the benefits to the local community and Newcastle racecourse's many supporters. We believe that should these plans proceed then they will enhance Newcastle racecourse as one of the pre-eminent racing and events venues in the UK."

The plans would also include significant investment made to improve the track's facilities.

"The development of an all-weather track in the north has long been an ambition of ours and this proposal would develop the best floodlit all-weather track in the world given the superb wide galloping track and our ability to incorporate a floodlit straight mile," ARC managing director Tony Kelly said.

"We have recently launched the ARC all-weather championship and that is an initial but very significant step in the move to improve the competitiveness and attractiveness of this important area of the sport. The increase in support and quality we have seen so far is extremely encouraging.

"This track would fit superbly within the ARC all-weather championship and would give us the ability to possibly share finals day with Lingfield Park. We hope to lodge a planning application in early 2014 once we have completed our consultation exercise."

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