Chelmsford set to launch new turf course within 18 months
Chelmsford City is aiming to have a new turf track up and running by April 2019.
The new course will be laid inside the existing all-weather track and is expected to cost around £1.5 million.
Chelmsford's chairman Joe Scanlon said: "We commissioned a feasibility study by a company called Professional Sportsturf Design and we have been working with them alongside the BHA on the specification and the overall design on how the track will look.
"What we intend to do over the winter is remove all the existing soil as it is unsuitable – drainage would then go in followed by new topsoil and then we would lay the turf.
"Once we start the work we are committed to finishing it. It is close to a £1.5 million project so we are not taking it on lightly."
Managing director Phil Siers said the turf that will be laid at Chelmsford had started to be grown in Newmarket this autumn and will need to have been in place for a year before it can be raced upon.
He added: "We are trying to get this operational for April 2019 which means we will have to get it laid for April 2018."
Scanlon acknowledged that the turf course would be tight – the all-weather course is only a mile and half a furlong – but that they were working with the BHA on the logistics of the track.
The management will also have to deal with the BHA to get extra meetings to stage turf cards, which would also be run under floodlights in some cases, a first for British racing.
"We would want additional fixtures because we are not spending all this money just to transfer from the fixtures that we have got and we will require customer friendly fixtures," Scanlon said.
Chelmsford's management also have plans to build a new grandstand which would incorporate a casino.
Such racinos have become a feature of of many racecourses in the United States and other parts of the world.
The existing grandstand is inside the racing oval and does not provide a view of the entire course.
Scanlon said: "We have outline planning permission for the grandstand. It's still very much at the early stages but it could encompass a racino and a hotel as well as a sports and leisure centre to become a destination for the Chelmsford area. But we want the turf course to come in first."
Chelmsford reopened in 2015 having been bought by a group headed by Betfred founder Fred Done following a six-year hiatus.
The track formerly known as Great Leighs had closed due to major financial difficulties less than a year after it first opened in April 2008.
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