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ARENA RACING COMPANY CONFIRMS PLANS FOR £11 MILLION INVESTMENT IN NEWCASTLE RACECOURSE

Jun 09 2015

Today Arena Racing Company (“ARC”) confirms plans for its £11 million investment into Newcastle Racecourse. Under ARC’s management Gosforth Park will be transformed with the introduction of a new all weather track, alongside the existing turf jump track and improvements to Newcastle Racecourse’s facilities. The investment will enhance the experience for all horsemen, racegoers and visitors who come to Newcastle Racecourse in the years ahead.

At the heart of the investment is the conversion of the existing flat turf track to a world class all weather surface with the first ever floodlit straight mile. The full plans include:
• Conversion of existing flat turf track to an all weather surface;
• Installation of floodlighting to illuminate the straight mile of the all weather track and pull up area;
• Enclosure of Park View Stand to form a new tiered restaurant;
• Refurbishment of existing saddling boxes and pre-parade ring; and
• Modernisation of the vets’ facilities and stable yard with a new entrance to the horsebox park to improve access to the stables for horses and horseboxes.
ARC’s investment plan for Newcastle Racecourse was unanimously approved by the Newcastle City Council Planning Committee in April 2014. At the same time the British Horseracing Authority (“BHA”), recognising the need for an all weather track in the north based on research by Deloitte, granted permission for Newcastle Racecourse’s Flat turf fixtures to be transferred to the all weather surface upon completion of the new track.

Last autumn it became apparent that as an all weather flat track Newcastle Racecourse would not be compliant with a specific rule in British Racing, Rule (F) 26.1, which states that race fixtures must have two races which add up to a combined distance of 2 miles 4 furlongs in distance. In discussion with the BHA it has been agreed that a number of Twilight fixtures will have their start times brought forward between 15 and 35 minutes. This will allow for one race of at least 1 mile 4 furlongs in distance to take place on the round course before floodlights are required, thus making Newcastle Racecourse compliant with Rule (F) 26.1. Racecourses. ARC and the BHA will continue to work together to avoid race time clashes. The Horserace Betting Levy Board has confirmed that this is anticipated to have no effect on levy generation or, at worst, a minor detrimental effect.

The BHA has given its approval for Newcastle Racecourse to participate in the 2016 Fixture allocation process as an all weather flat track and a turf jumps track. The number of fixtures Newcastle Racecourse will host in 2016 is still to be determined and is subject to the outcome of this process. Newcastle Racecourse’s existing 17 Flat Fixtures (15 Racecourse Fixtures and 2 Enterprise Fixtures) will be transferred on to the all weather and Newcastle Racecourse will receive a proportion of the 93 available Floodlit Fixtures. There will also be the opportunity to potentially bid for some BHA Leasehold Fixtures and transfer fixtures from other racecourses within the ARC group.

The work to convert the flat track will commence in September and the first race on the new all weather surface will take place in spring 2016. The investment plan has several important benefits for Newcastle Racecourse and British Racing as a whole, including:
• More racing opportunities in the north throughout the year with more horses being kept in training;
• Significantly reduced travelling costs for owners with horses in the North and Scotland;
• Exciting racing on a world class all weather racing surface, intended to be Tapeta, and an improved race programme;
• Investment and improvement in the facilities at Newcastle Racecourse; and
• Increased employment opportunities and visitors to the North East.

While the work is carried out over the winter, Newcastle Racecourse’s remaining fixtures for 2015 will be hosted elsewhere. The two flat fixtures in October will be transferred to other ARC tracks. It is still to be determined where the four jumps fixtures, two in November and two in December, will be run. It is proposed that the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle will be run at Doncaster Racecourse on Saturday 28 November, subject to BHA approval.

Once racing recommences at Newcastle Racecourse all flat racing will take place on the new all weather track, including the Northumberland Plate. The prize fund will be boosted to £150,000 in 2016 and a reserve race, worth £75,000, will be introduced for horses that do not get in to the Northumberland Plate, subject to BHA approval.

In its submission to the BHA ARC made specific commitments to prize money at Newcastle Racecourse. ARC will ensure that the fixtures transferred from other racecourses will have at least an average Executive Contribution of £23,000, in line with Newcastle Racecourse’s current average for flat racing. It is proposed that a number of flat fixtures could be transferred from other ARC racecourses to Newcastle Racecourse to ensure a more equal geographical spread of all weather fixtures.

A full explanation of the benefits of this project, along with other key details for stakeholders, is set out below.

ARC Managing Director, Tony Kelly, said: “This is a very exciting time for Newcastle Racecourse. We embarked on this investment plan three years ago and are pleased we now have everything in place to start the work in the autumn. I understand and sympathise that there are some in the sport who will be sad to see a turf track converted to all weather but the many benefits of ARC’s £11 million investment will ensure Newcastle Racecourse can make an even more valuable contribution to British Racing in the years to come.”

Newcastle Racecourse Executive Director, David Williamson said, “Newcastle Racecourse plays a valuable role in the local community and our ambitious plans will ensure it has a bright future for many years to come. We are very appreciative of the significant local support for our investment. We look forward to the work commencing in the autumn and being ready for the launch of racing on the new all weather surface in spring 2016.”

For further information please contact:

Susannah Gill
Director of External Affairs
Arena Racing Company
Office: 020 7802 5120
Mobile: 07751 870 929
Email: sgill@arenaracingcompany.co.uk
Web: www.arenaracingcompany.co.uk

3rd Floor, Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP


What is happening at Newcastle Racecourse?
Arena Racing Company, the owners of Newcastle Racecourse, are investing £11 million into the racecourse. This will see the introduction of a new all weather track and additional improvements to enhance the experience for all horsemen, racegoers and visitors.
At the heart of the investment is the conversion of the existing flat turf track to a world class all weather surface with the first ever floodlit straight mile. The full plans include:
• Conversion of existing flat turf track to an all weather surface;
• Installation of floodlighting to illuminate the straight mile of the all weather track and pull up area;
• Enclosure of Park View Stand to form a new tiered restaurant;
• Refurbishment of existing saddling boxes and pre-parade ring; and
• Modernisation of the vets’ facilities and stable yard with a new entrance to the horsebox park to improve access to the stables for horses and horseboxes.
Will Jump racing continue at Newcastle Racecourse alongside all weather racing?
Yes, Jump racing will continue at Newcastle Racecourse alongside flat racing on the all weather track. ARC will continue to develop the Jump race programme.

What are the benefits of this investment?
There are several benefits for both Newcastle Racecourse and racing in the north. These include:

• More racing opportunities throughout the year with more horses being kept in training
An all weather track at Newcastle Racecourse will support the racing industry by encouraging owners and trainers to keep more horses in training, especially through the winter months. A Review of All Weather Racing, conducted by Deloitte, on behalf of the British Horseracing Authority, estimated that a northern all weather track could support around 45 fixtures across the core all weather season (October to March) with over 900 extra runners being provided by northern and Scottish trainers.

• Significantly reduced travelling costs for owners with horses in the North and Scotland
Travelling a racehorse is expensive, costing at least £1 per mile. The costs owners with horses in the North and Scotland have to pay to take their horses to an all weather track, either as part of training or for a race, will be substantially reduced.

• Exciting racing on a world class all weather racing surface, intended to be Tapeta
Newcastle Racecourse will have the first floodlit straight mile in the world with only the second Tapeta racing surface in Europe, which has proved a success at Wolverhampton Racecourse since August 2014. The consistency in the going provided by a world class and safe all weather surface will help reduce fixture abandonments and non-runners which have a positive impact on field sizes, betting turnover and British Racing’s perception overseas.

• An improved race programme and investment as part of the All Weather Championships
The historic Northumberland Plate, first run in 1833 when it was known as the ‘Pitmen’s Derby’, will be run on the all weather track ensuring consistency of going for all runners. The prize fund will be boosted to £150,000 from 2016 and a reserve race, worth £75,000, will be introduced for horses that do not get in to the Northumberland Plate, subject to BHA approval. Being able to balance fixtures between Newcastle Racecourse and Southwell Racecourse will expand the geographical spread of all weather fixtures. ARC is continuing to investigate and invest a very significant six-figure sum in flood defences facilities at Southwell Racecourse. Newcastle Racecourse will become part of the successful All-Weather Championships which were launched by ARC in 2013 and have received a very positive response from owners, trainers, jockeys and bookmakers.

• Increased investment in facilities at Newcastle Racecourse
A new tiered restaurant and further investment in facilities will see Newcastle Racecourse increase the appeal and attraction of racing to thousands of existing and new racegoers, who mostly live in and around the Newcastle area.

• Boosting investment, employment opportunities and visitors to the North East
During the construction phase nearly 250 temporary jobs will be created and a further 365 indirect jobs in the supply chain with an additional 2,500 hours of new work guaranteed each year thereafter in the hospitality business through increased attendance at Newcastle Racecourse. It is estimated that it will attract 26,000 new visitors a year spending an extra £1 million to the benefit of the North East region.

Which parts of the racecourse are being converted from turf to all weather?
The existing flat track on both the straight and round course will be converted from turf to all weather. The round course will remain at 1 mille 6 furlong in distance and the straight course will be 8 furlongs.

What race distances will be run on the all weather track?
The all weather track will offer the following race distances:
• 5 furlong on the straight;
• 6 furlong on the straight;
• 7 furlong on the straight;
• 8 furlong on the straight;
• 1 mile 2 furlongs on the round course;
• 1 mile 4 furlongs on the round course;
• 1 mile 6 furlongs on the round course; and
• 2 miles on the round course.
Why is Tapeta intended to be chosen as the new all weather surface?
The Tapeta track at Wolverhampton has proved a success since it opened in August 2014 with increased field sizes and positive feedback from horsemen. Michael and Joan Dickinson, founders of Tapeta Footings, have a proven track record on construction and ARC’s groundstaff will continue to work with them closely during the building and ongoing maintenance of the new all weather track.
Which parts of the new all weather track are being floodlit?
The straight course and pull up area will be floodlit. Musco Sports Lighting, an internationally based company with a proven record have designed the lighting which will be installed in compliance with BHAGI 3.9 by a National Inspection Council for the Electrical Installation Contracting approved contractor.

Why is the whole of the round course not being floodlit?
Due to housing and the site of special scientific interest ARC did not apply for permission to floodlight the whole of the round course.

How many fixtures will Newcastle Racecourse host from 2016?
This is still to be confirmed and subject to the outcome of the 2016 Fixture allocation process.

Newcastle Racecourse’s existing 17 Flat Fixtures (15 Racecourse Fixtures and 2 Enterprise Fixtures) will be transferred on to the all weather and Newcastle Racecourse will receive a proportion of the 93 available Floodlit Fixtures. There will also be the opportunity to potentially bid for some BHA Leasehold Fixtures and transfer fixtures from other racecourses within the ARC group.

Newcastle Racecourse will continue to host 12 National Hunt Fixtures each year.
This means Newcastle Racecourse can expect to host more than the current 29 fixtures it is hosting in 2015, although the final number is still to be determined.

How have the issues around Rule (F) 26.1 been resolved?
In discussion with the BHA it has been agreed that a number of Twilight fixtures will have their start times brought forward between 15 and 35 minutes. This will allow for one race of at least 1 mile 4 furlongs in distance to take place on the round course before floodlights are required, thus making Newcastle Racecourse compliant with Rule (F) 26.1. Racecourses and the BHA will continue to work together to avoid race time clashes. The Horserace Betting Levy Board has confirmed that this is anticipated to have no effect on levy generation or, at worst, a minor detrimental effect.

When will the work commence and finish at Newcastle Racecourse?
It is anticipated the work will commence in September 2015 and the first race on the new all weather surface will take place in spring 2016.

Will racing continue over the winter while the track is converted?
While the work is carried out over the winter, Newcastle Racecourse’s remaining fixtures for 2015 will be hosted elsewhere. The two flat fixtures in October will be transferred to other ARC tracks. It is still to be determined where the four jumps fixtures, two in November and two in December, will be run.

Where will the Grade One Fighting Fifth hurdle be run on Saturday 28 November?
It is proposed that the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle will be run at Doncaster Racecourse on Saturday 28 November, subject to BHA approval.

Will the Northumberland Plate be run on the all weather and what will the prize money levels be?
Yes, the Northumberland Plate will be run on the all weather from 2016 onwards. The prize fund will be boosted to £150,000 in 2016 and a reserve race, worth £75,000, will be introduced for horses that do not get in to the Northumberland Plate, subject to BHA approval.

What is the safety factor/field size limit for the Northumberland Plate?
This will remain at 20 runners.

What is the safety factor/field size limit for races on the straight mile?
This safety factor for the straight mile will be 14, as opposed to the current 16 runners. Given the additional fixtures Newcastle Racecourse will host, particularly through the winter, there will be additional racing opportunities throughout the year despite this small reduction. Maximum fields of 14 also meet the needs of bookmakers in the UK and abroad.

What is the future for Southwell Racecourse if some of its existing flat fixtures move to Newcastle Racecourse?
A number of Flat Fixtures may be transferred from Southwell Racecourse to Newcastle Racecourse to ensure a more equal geographical spread of all weather fixtures. However, Southwell Racecourse will continue to be a Jump and Flat track. ARC is currently investing a significant six figure sum in flood defences at Southwell Racecourse to safeguard the future of the racecourse. More details will be available about this in the coming months.



What commitments has ARC made about future prize money levels at Newcastle Racecourse?
ARC will ensure that the fixtures transferred from other racecourses will have at least an average Executive Contribution of £23,000 in line with Newcastle Racecourse’s current average for flat racing.

Does this project have local support?
Yes, this project has support from Newcastle City Council and business organisations, including the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and North East Chamber of Commerce, due to the increased job opportunities and visitors it will bring to the local area.