The Jockey Club are to purchase and manage the Lambourn Gallops after a private sale was agreed with the Nugent Family, the current owners. The scheduled transfer date is 1st December 2005, after which the 500 acres of public training grounds will be owned and managed by Jockey Club Estates Ltd, the Jockey Club’s property and land management company.
When the transfer has been completed, Jockey Club Estates, whose property portfolio also includes the training grounds in Newmarket, will embark upon an investment programme aimed at upgrading the existing facilities on the Lambourn gallops.
Julian Richmond-Watson, the Senior Steward of The Jockey Club and Chairman of Jockey Club Estates, said: “This is an exciting development for the Jockey Club, and one which we hope will be very positive for Lambourn.”
“Over the last decade, Jockey Club Estates has made a substantial investment in the training facilities at Newmarket. As a result, it is now internationally recognised as a modern centre of excellence for the training of racehorses. The public gallops at Lambourn represent an opportunity to use the experience and expertise we have acquired at Newmarket in a new location. Lambourn has a great heritage as a training centre for both National Hunt and Flat racing and we are looking forward to investing in its future success.”
The Lambourn gallops have been under the ownership of the Nugent Family since the 1930’s. Since then the village has established itself as one of the key training centres in Britain. The gallops have been responsible for producing scores of National Hunt and Flat champions. Trainers who have used the gallops to prepare their horses include Fulke Walwyn, Fred Winter, Peter Walwyn, Barry Hills, Nicky Henderson, Jenny Pitman and Kim Bailey.
Brian Meehan, the trainer of last week’s Group One Cheveley Park Stakes winner, Donna Blini, currently trains the largest string using the public gallops. At present, the gallops are regularly used by around twenty trainers.
Peter Walwyn, Chairman of the Lambourn Trainers’ Association, said: “Although it is an end of an era with regard to the Nugent family’s involvement with the gallops, the purchase by Jockey Club Estates is good news for Lambourn, not just for those trainers who use the public gallops but for the village as a whole. The Jockey Club will ensure continuity and safeguard the future of the gallops. The trainers are looking forward to working with Jockey Club Estates and we are delighted to learn that they intend to invest in the gallops and upgrade the facilities where necessary. Improved facilities will attract more owners and bring more horses to Lambourn.
Julian Richmond-Watson added: “Clearly Lambourn owes a huge debt to the Nugent family for all that they have done while they have been involved with the gallops. We will be working closely with Lady Eliza and Martin Mays-Smith to ensure the transfer is as smooth as possible.”
The bulk of the 500 acres in question are known as the Mandown Gallops. The facilities include extensive grass and all weather gallops, and grass and all weather schooling grounds. The facilities are also available to other trainers in the locality as well as to the regular users of the gallops.
Jockey Club Estates is already responsible for the management and administration of 4500 acres of land in and around Newmarket, as well as over eighty-five residential and commercial properties, two studs, twelve leasehold training yards and the Jockey Club Rooms. Also included in the property portfolio are the Rowley Mile and July Racecourses, the National Stud land, the National Horseracing Museum and tenanted farmland.
The focus of the company in recent years has been the management and development of the 2800 acres of Newmarket training grounds as the centre of world excellence for the training of thoroughbred racehorses.
All profits generated by Jockey Club Estates are re-invested into improving the facilities under their management. In 2004, close to £1m was spent on major improvement projects, upgrading the facilities which allow the training grounds to cope with the ever-increasing size of Newmarket’s horse population, which rose last year by 10%.
Peter Amos, Managing Director of Jockey Club Estates, will continue to be based in Newmarket. A Lambourn based management team will be set up and report to the Jockey Club Estates Head Office in Newmarket.