The future of Towcester racecourse is up in the air after it was announced the company which owns the track is taking steps to place the business into administration.
In a statement issued through Facebook, Towcester Racecourse Company Limited – the proprietors of Towcester Racecourse – said it was “currently experiencing trading difficulties”.
As well as horseracing, the Northamptonshire venue has also staged regular greyhound meetings since 2014, including the sport’s most prestigious race, the Greyhound Derby, for the last two years.
The statement read: “Towcester Racecourse Company Limited, proprietors of Towcester Racecourse, are currently experiencing trading difficulties and are in discussions with key stakeholders and professional advisors on the way forward. However, the directors have concluded that they have no alternative in the short term but to seek court protection and are now taking steps to place the company into administration.
“As a result, it is with regret that the greyhound meetings on this Friday, 17th August and over the weekend at Towcester Racecourse have been cancelled.
“Whilst inevitably there will be considerable interest from customers, supporters and suppliers, the directors ask that they be given time to focus on exploring other options for the business and they anticipate there will be a further update in the next few days.
“The directors remain hopeful that despite the current situation, given the significant history of horseracing and more recently greyhound racing at Towcester, there will be significant interest from potential acquirers.”
The next scheduled horseracing fixture is on Wednesday, October 10, with further meetings due to take place in November and December before the end of the year.
Towcester racecourse dates back to 1876 and in 1928 the first Lord Hesketh formed the present company and established the course under National Hunt Rules. The track has remained in the ownership of the Fermor-Hesketh family ever since.
ITV Racing and At The Races presenter Matt Chapman regularly covers both horseracing and greyhound racing at Towcester and called on someone to save the track.
He told At The Races: “This is an aesthetically beautiful racecourse – it’s just a wonder when you’re there. The weather can be a bit tempestuous at Towcester, but on a beautiful, sunny day, there are few racecourses that have a better view.
“It will be a massive disappointment if racing is lost at Towcester. More importantly than that, in the immediate future, is that you have an industry going on there at the moment in the world of greyhound racing.
“The greyhound stadium was put up there and it cost £15 million to redevelop by Lord Hesketh, who has chucked an enormous amount of his own money at Towcester.
“For whatever reasons this has now happened, there are a lot of people who are going to be affected by this, unless, of course, something can be done to salvage the situation.”
Towcester was famously where Sir Tony McCoy claimed his 4,000th winner over jumps when scoring aboard the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Mountain Tunes in November 2013.
Chapman added: “Everyone remembers John Hunt’s commentary of Tony McCoy’s 4,000th winner – that goes down in history.
“This is not a ramshackled track that is falling down, this is a state-of-the-art racetrack with a brand new grandstand.
“Anyone who has a love of horseracing, a love of beauty and a love of sport, will hope that someone out there thinks that Towcester is worth saving.”
The British Horseracing Authority admitted it was unaware of Towcester’s predicament.
A statement read: “Towcester racecourse is yet to formally make us aware of their plans to go into administration. When we receive this notification, we will consider the implications that this has for the racecourse’s licence and scheduled fixtures.”