The Racing world was rocked this week with the news that Kempton Racecourse will be closing no later than 2021 with the famous Boxing Day King George moving to Sandown. A new all-weather venue, likely to be located at Newmarket, would be built as part of the plans to revamp British Racing.
Obviously such a big topic has created much debate throughout the Internet and afar and we wanted to weigh in our two pennies. Each of our tipsters, alongside JPW Racing Tipster, have given us their thoughts.
It is a huge shame to be losing a prestigious track with so much history. The King George is a staple of many people’s Christmas Holidays and although the race will continue, the feeling of the race and meeting as a whole will ultimately change. Sandown is an excellent track that is set to receive a huge amount of investment but I would echo Nicky Henderson’s thoughts that it seems to deal less well when there is significant rainfall, and the track may struggle to produce the type of ground that we would typically see at Kempton at Christmas consistently. I also would question the placing of the new all weather track in Newmarket. The racing populous and catchment area is much smaller than compared to Kempton, and the move surely comes from pressure of trainers and connections from that area. Kempton is a brilliant dual-purpose track and I am thoroughly disappointed to be losing it.
Sad news I will admit. A shock to us all and one that has left me somewhat stunned.
Everybody will have their own opinion on the matter but for me it stands as a financial decision which will in one way or another, have both positive and negative affect’s the for future of racing. The loss of Kempton’s NH track is of course a massive loss for the jumps scene. A proper grade one jumps track and one that has seen some memorable moments. For me however the loss of Kempton’s AW track is a huge blow to a thriving AW scene. Kempton is perhaps the fairest AW track on the circuit and more to the fact it is the only AW track that goes right handed. A long wide straight means the draw isn’t so crucial and the flat nature of the track means trainers often use it as a starting point for their youngsters. It will be sorely missed.
So what’s new? Newmarket has produced plans for a new AW track which for me is obviously a positive note. The loss of Kempton’s AW track perhaps buffered by the news however they will have their work cut out if they are to produce an AW track that is good enough to fill the void. Sandown is set to take on board the NH slack which is worrying given the track’s ground struggles to cope with the amount of racing they get at the moment. I feel as though we may be revisiting this point further down the line. Chelmsford has revealed ambitious plans about a turf track being built on their premises which, in all honesty, I am massively in favour of. Their AW track certainly attracts some nice fields and it is a track that is very accessible to most.
The future certainly has a different look to it now and although the decision may seem at this point rather rash I am sure the racing world will do as it always does, adjust and relish its new features.
THE Jockey Club will have been prepared for this week’s backlash. But can their plan to close Kempton stand up to months, if not years of intense scrutiny? The sums behind the proposal are, at best, open to conjecture. The sale of prime real estate to raise £100million is a boardroom exercise in its purest form.
Take it out on to the racetrack and the bulldozers are heading for one of our nation’s most historic national hunt venues. The very essence of Christmas – the King George on Boxing Day will be no more. Suddenly those same sums don’t appear to add up.
The powers that be may have squared this moral circle by telling themselves the sport wins in the end. Investment of £500million, better facilities at Sandown, a new all weather track at Newmarket and a boost in prize money – all of it ticks the PR boxes. But what of the heart being ripped out to make this happen?
It’s coming to something when racing’s so-called guardians admit the only way to advance the sport is to flog one of the nation’s best loved courses. Opposition from within will, unsurprisingly, be fierce. From trainers to owners and punters alike – there are precious few voices in support.
And it appears the battle to be fought at local level, against council and planning chiefs, will be just as fierce. Nobody – apart from the Jockey Club and their housing developers it would seem – wants to lose Kempton. Which begs the question, have they backed the wrong horse here?
The Jumps Punter
On Tuesday came the shock news of the plans to close Kempton Park to make way for houses being built on the site.
Racing has taken place at Kempton since 1878 and will continue to do so until 2021. There has been plenty of high profile names within our sport voicing their disapproval of the plans and hopefully the planned closure can be reverted.
The King George VI Chase run on Boxing Day is one of the highlights of the National Hunt season and has been ran at the course since 1937.
For me, The King George VI Chase on Boxing Day not being run at Kempton just doesn’t sound right. With such great horses as Arkle, Desert Orchid and Kauto Star winners of the race to name a few, it’s a race that has be one of the highlight’s of the busy Christmas period of racing for many years.
Obviously, the racecourse can’t survive on one stand out meeting a year but there is plenty of all weather racing held there throughout the year and a few jumps meeting through the winter. In recent times the reports suggest attendance figures haven’t been great at the course and looking at the wider picture the sale of the racecourse would generate funds to pump money into other areas of racing.
From a personal viewpoint as a racing fan, I don’t want to see any racecourse closing especially not one that as given me so many wonderful Boxing Day memories.
I’m quite disappointed that they would do such a thing, it just doesn’t seem fair on taking away such a great racecourse which has produced fantastic memories over the years.
I mean, what happens with the Kauto Star statue? Does that mean they move it to Sandown Park? That would seem odd and the achievement of the horse winning the King George 5 times at Kempton with a statue in honour, yet it’s at Sandown wouldn’t feel the same.
I think it’s a big mistake for National Hunt racing and I don’t think they have taken into consideration about horse racing fans, punters, connections and anyone involved etc. It all comes down to money in the end and it’s a a very sad moment.
I do feel they have picked a good racecourse for replacement but that shouldn’t happen in the first place. Out of all the places they choose to do it to Kempton Park instead of another area, why? Money, plain and simple.
They haven’t exactly let the public have their own opinion. A vote for punters? I guess they knew what the answer would be!
JPW Racing Tipster
When you hear the word Kempton Racecourse you immediately think King George and the great horses in Kauto Star, Desert Orchid, One Man and Wayward Lad. Losing Kempton Racecourse is a big shame as it feels like a ritual is being taken away from the Racing Public. The move to Sandown will go down well with some folk but I don’t think it will ever be the same. I will be sad to see Kempton Racecourse gone as it took a certain special type of horse who was capable of winning the King George and I just wonder if Sandown will have the same affect on certain horses or even trainers.
Time will tell but for now it is a loss which will be sadly missed.