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SBD Global/November 30, 2012/Facilities

Famed Newbury Racecourse Saved With $560M Project

Anyone "grumbling at the construction works" at England's Newbury Racecourse should be aware of one alarming fact: It "may not be pretty, but it is probably saving this grand old racecourse from closure," according to Alan Lee of the LONDON TIMES. Newbury Managing Dir Stephen Higgins was "blunt on the matter as he surveyed the early stages of a redevelopment." Higgins: "It was essential. Without this, you would have feared for the future of the racecourse." Newbury, "beloved by many in racing and an annual pilgrimage for thousands on this November weekend, has been a faded jewel for too long." Its "wonderfully flat and fair track, admired by all, was at serious risk of being sold off." The salvation is "one of impressive scale." Through a partnership with David Wilson Homes that has been five years in the making, 1,500 homes are to be built on racecourse land by '20. The first housing is "already under way." Of the £350M ($561M) invested in the entire project, £32M ($51M) is being spent "on racecourse improvements." These include a new stable block and accommodation, enhanced paddock viewing, new weighing-room and car parks and sympathetic landscaping. Prize money for the flagship Hennessy fixture is up £75,000 ($120,100) on last year’s unsatisfactory levels, and Higgins is adamant that "the feature races over the next three days should be contested and appreciated in their own right" (LONDON TIMES, 11/29).
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