By Simon Jackson.
Horse racing returns to Essex on Sunday when Chelmsford City Racecourse host their first meeting, following a final inspection by the British Horse Racing Authority (BHA).
The all-weather track has been awarded 58 race meetings as part of the 2015 fixture list. The first of them will be for invited guests and competition winners only and will be used to test facilities for the opening seven-race card.
Chelmsford City Racecourse is located five miles north of Chelmsford on the site of Great Leighs Racecourse. Great Leighs was the first new racecourse in the UK for over 80 years when it opened in 2008 but went into administration the next year after just 44 meetings and has since been sold to the current owners.
The chances of racing returning to Essex became a reality earlier this year, when the BHA offered 12 start-up fixtures on the all-weather track for 2015.
“Our initial reaction is that we’re very pleased so many owners and trainers have decided to support our first meeting,” Chelmsford chairman Joe Scanlon said on Wetherbys website, after the BHA inspection on Monday.
“We’ve put good prize-money up for our first meeting, in excess of £70,000.
“The BHA inspectors were here this morning for the final inspection.
“They have been very helpful and we’re pleased we’ve now got to a point where they are happy we can race on Sunday.
“It’s a nervous time and I’ll be pleased when it’s Sunday evening.”
While there are no tickets available to buy for the first meeting, the club expects tickets to go on sale ‘very soon’ for the next fixture, a twilight meeting on January 22.
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