Newcastle Racecourse Redevelopment
Newcastle Racecourse is set to become the world’s largest all-weather race track after undergoing a £12 million investment. Work on the redevelopment of the course began in September 2015 and is due for completion in mid-March with races starting in May.
Stephen Higgins, Property Director at Arena Racing Company, which owns Newcastle Racecourse said: “It is going to be the only all-weather track in the world with a straight mile, together with a two mile circular track and in terms of its circumference, it is the biggest all-weather track in the world.”
Located at Gosforth Park near Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle Racecourse opened in 1882 and stages both flat and National Hunt racing. Horseracing began in the North East over 350 years ago, beginning in Killingworth in the early 17th Century.
Plans for the redevelopment of Newcastle Racecourse were announced by Arena Racing Company in 2013 and include investment in the sites rich and cultural heritage. In April 2014 Newcastle City Council unanimously approved plans for the redevelopment which also include further enhanced racing facilities and a new glazed tiered restaurant.
The redevelopment of the track has been a civil engineering project which has seen 61,000 square meters of new racing surface installed. The new race surface, a surface called Tapeta which has been developed in America, will allow the race course to be raced on every day of the year, rather than limiting the course to a small number of race days. As well as the new race surface, 44 floodlights, which have also been shipped from America, are being installed to provide the course with a floodlit straight mile. This will allow races to be undertaken in the evening.
The final touches are now being made to the track including the laying of the surface, the floodlights being connected and improvements to some of the areas for the horses including the saddle inboxes, stabling area, pre-parade and parade rings. These areas will then be used for the first time on 17th May.
By developing the all-weather track, Newcastle Racecourse will be able to host the prestigious ARC All-Weather Championship racing programme. This international programme is primarily for a global television audience but will generate significant revenue for participating courses and their city.
The main contractor on the project was Stobart Rail, whose work on the project has been described as “fantastic” and “excellent” and the main architect on the project was Ian Darby Partnership.
Despite work progressing nicely, the harsh winter has given developers some minor problems.
Stephen added: “The challenges have been constructing such a large civil project in winter. The design for the outfalls has been interesting because the water goes into a triple SI, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), so we have had to specifically design a filter to clean the water for when it leaves the racecourse before it goes into the triple S.”
Having worked on the project for several months, Arena Racing is now ready to open the doors to the new Newcastle Racecourse.
Stephen concluded: “We have been very excited from the start as it does present a great opportunity in the North of England to stage and showcase good quality racing and to support the racing industry in the north, as well as hopefully improving the sporting facilities for Newcastle and the surrounding regions. We have been delighted to do it and hopefully everyone will come to like it once it opens.”