Julian Richmond Watson, Senior Steward of the Jockey Club, today opened the refurbished 'Back of the Hill' gallop in Lambourn. With funding support from the Levy Board, the 'Back of the Hill' is the first of two all weather gallops to be refurbished as part a substantial investment in the facilities by Jockey Club Estates, who acquired the Mandown training grounds at the start of 2006.
The 'Back of the Hill' gallop is a mile in length and is used predominantly by trainers with National Hunt horses. Previously wood chip, the gallop has been completely refurbished by Martin Collins Enterprises and re-laid with 'eco-track', part of the latest generation of artificial surfaces.
Following its official opening, horses trained by J-R Auvray, Noel Chance and Charlie Mann used the refurbished gallop.
Julian Richmond-Watson, Senior Steward and Chairman of Jockey Club Estates, said: "As soon as we took on the Mandown gallops the 'Back of the Hill' was identified as a priority for investment. Currently there are more Flat horses using the Jockey Club's Lambourn facilities than Jump horses. One of our aims is to re-establish Lambourn as the centre of excellence for the training of National Hunt horses and we believe that the re-furbished 'Back of the Hill' will prove to be among the best gallops in the country."
"We are very grateful to the Levy Board for their support. Jockey Club Estates seek to provide first class training facilities that are available for use by all. In Newmarket there are around 2,500 horses and over 70 different trainers regularly using the gallops. Encouragingly, the numbers at Mandown are now increasing. From a low of around 320 in June we anticipate having in excess of 500 horses regularly using the training grounds before the end of the year. In addition, the facilities are open to trainers based outside the village and the number of casual users is also on the up."
Work is underway on the second gallop to be re-furbished; the 'Short' is a six furlong gallop and will also be re-laid with eco-track by Martin Collins Enterprises. It is expected to be ready for use before the end of October.
The Levy Board contributed a grant of £250,000 towards the re-furbishing of training facilities at Mandown. By the close of the year, Jockey Club Estates will have invested over £1million in upgrading their recently acquired facilities in Lambourn. In addition to the two all weather gallops there has been investment in horsewalks, running rail, schooling fences, fencing and signage as well as new machinery and maintenance equipment.
Julian Richmond-Watson added: "We are delighted with how things are developing in Lambourn. We have had fantastic support and co-operation from the trainers and their staff and we have developed good working relationships with the local authorities who recognise the valuable contribution racing makes to the local area and its economy."