Kelleway backs Jockey Club's controversial racecourse plans
Newmarket trainer Gay Kelleway has called on the Jockey Club to bulldoze Kempton as soon as possible and hasten plans for a new all-weather track at headquarters that "should have been built 16 years ago".
Kelleway, who trains just three miles from Newmarket's Rowley Mile course at Exning, is pulling no punches in her verdict on the controversy which was sparked this month when the Jockey Club announced they were to submit plans to shut Kempton by 2021 at the earliest and build 3,000 houses on the site 15 miles south-west of London.
Kelleway has been one of the biggest supporters of all-weather racing since it was introduced in 1989 but has had only 56 runners at Kempton in the past five years in contrast to around twice as many at Lingfield and Wolverhampton.
She said: "Bulldozing Kempton and building a track at Newmarket is a great idea and much of that is to do with the travelling. Why do I want to spend five hours stuck on the M25 to get to Kempton when I can go a few minutes down the road? Unlike some trainers, I like to go and see all my horses run and it's a nightmare place to get to at the best of times especially with all the Heathrow traffic."
If the plans get the green light, Newmarket could have an all-weather track in under five years and it cannot come soon enough for many including Kelleway.
She added: "All this about Newmarket being too grand for an all-weather track is rubbish as they built one in France at Chantilly and you can't get much grander than that. It should have been built 16 years ago when it was discussed at a trainers' meeting but was voted down."
Most Newmarket trainers are in favour of the proposals, something that does not surprise Kelleway, who added: "It's common sense to build a track at Newmarket. It could even open it up to more foreign runners as they would be able to stable and train their horses through the winter in the town. I just hope it's built in my time and not after."