Great Leighs subject to early inspection

Britain's newest racecourse Great Leighs, which was dogged by setbacks before first staging meetings last month to invited guests, has another obstacle to pass before its official opening to the public tomorrow afternoon.

The British Horseracing Authority have requested the Essex venue hold an inspection at 9am to decide whether it is raceable, with work requested to have been carried out last Friday not yet completed.

It consists of an already-raised problem about access for emergency vehicles.

Paul Struthers, BHA spokesman, said: "When we issued Great Leighs with their licence before their first meeting on April 20 there were conditions attached, which meant there was further work that needed to be completed before their meeting on May 28.

"Nicky Carlisle, one of the BHA's inspectors of courses, visited the course last Friday to check on progress and in two particular areas - namely access for emergency vehicles and the judge's tower - progress was not as good as we hoped.

"We were assured, and it was perfectly feasible, that the work would be completed over the weekend.

"Nicky has visited again today and the work has still not been completed and we are now being assured the work will be completed by tomorrow morning.

"This is why the inspection has been called as we don't want to unnecessarily abandon a meeting, which will of course result in lost opportunities to run for connections.

"Whilst we expect the course to pass the inspection, this is an unsatisfactory situation to say the least."

The first meeting for the public will not have admission on the gate, with advance tickets having been purchased.

Great Leighs are also set to throw open their doors to the general public on Thursday afternoon.

Great Leighs director of communications Pippa Cuckson reported bad weather to have been the reason behind the setback.

She said: "There is not a lot to add to the BHA statement.

"We thought the judge's tower was OK but we were asked to improve the access areas and the work could have been carried out over the weekend.

"But we have had an absolute deluge here, which made things very difficult.

"Obviously we are working hard to get things right - and will continue to do so - and as the BHA said, they expect us to pass tomorrow.

"It was not a formal inspection by Nicky Carlisle, but he was obviously not happy with certain things."

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