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Great Leighs day

Great Leighs: Essex track has been closed for four years

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (  

Great Leighs plans to enter fixture process

THE owners of Great Leighs will on Thursday take the first step towards what they hope will result in the track reclaiming its place among Britain's active courses when they submit an application to participate in the 2014 fixture allocation process.

The Essex all-weather venue has been closed for four years, but Keith Brown, chairman of MC Racetracks, is optimistic that previous objections raised by the BHA about the circuit near Chelmsford coming back on stream have been overcome.

Brown and his chief executive Tony James were on Wednesday putting the finishing touches to the bulky documentation and are looking to host between 35 and 45 meetings next year.

Great Leighs quickly became popular with owners, trainers and jockeys after staging its first card in April 2008, but it closed nine months later and the course went into administration and had its licence revoked.

MC Racetracks' application for 2013 fixtures was rejected by the BHA last May, and although no explanation was given by the sport's regulator, the concern was not thought to centre on either the facilities or access.

Speaking from Portugal on Wednesday, Brown said: "Our last application for a licence fell down over a number of technical problems, but we are now much better prepared and in better shape regarding the issues that arose a year ago. We are not sure how many fixtures will be available, but we are budgeting prize-money for around 35 to 45."

Brown admitted that because of Great Leigh's chequered history, the criteria the company has to meet are likely to be more exacting than those set for other courses.

"When you are a new racecourse, they [the BHA] want surety going forward for us which doesn't necessarily apply to a normal racecourse for the first year, and there are certain guarantees we have to give which don't have to be given by other racecourses.

"It has been challenging to ensure we have the financial resources, but we feel more comfortable than we did a year ago because we believe we have answered the issues the BHA raised with us last time."

BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey said last night: "We have yet to receive an application from the owners of Great Leighs Racecourse to join the 2014 fixture list, however we are expecting to receive such an application shortly.

"Once it has been received we will begin the process of giving due consideration to the application, which will involve ongoing dialogue with the applicants."

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