The Jockey Club, the largest commercial group in British horseracing, today announced the appointment of leading constructor, Kier, as the main contractor to deliver its £45m grandstand development at its flagship Cheltenham Racecourse in time for The Festival 2016.
Work will start on the development, which was subject to financing, immediately following the end of next week’s Cheltenham Festival after The Jockey Club also today announced it has secured all £45m funding required for what amounts to its largest-ever single capital investment project. Around 235,000 people are expected to descend on the Home of Jump racing between Tuesday 11th and Friday 14th March 2014.
The funding package includes nearly £25m successfully raised through The Jockey Club Racecourse Bond – the first retail bond in British sport. The remaining £20m has been secured through a combination of bank financing via The Jockey Club’s syndicate banks – HSBC, AIB and RBS, a Levy Board capital fund loan, commercial deals and the Group’s available cashflow from trading.
Kier’s appointment follows a highly competitive tender process involving several leading construction firms. It has an excellent track record delivering several major projects at Cheltenham Racecourse, including the £17m construction of The Centaur building, one of the largest events spaces in the South West of England. Kier’s Cheltenham office will lead the development, meaning an immediate positive economic impact for the local area, with many of those who will work on the development living locally.
The development will create a state-of-the-art new grandstand alongside Cheltenham’s existing main grandstand. It will include new annual members’ facilities, general public viewing areas, private boxes, a Super Club and the Royal Box. The project will also see the creation of elevated walkways to ease mobility for customers and provide a multi-tiered ‘amphitheatre’ experience around the parade ring, allowing even more people to enjoy the equine stars at the heart of all Cheltenham’s racedays.
Preparation works began last summer with the removal of the circa 1920s ‘A&R’ block of boxes, replaced for the duration of the 2013/14 season by a high-quality temporary structure that enhances the facilities available to racegoers. This has been called the Arkle Stand as part of celebrations to commemorate 50 years since the great chaser won the first of his three Cheltenham Gold Cup victories.
Nicholas Wrigley, Senior Steward of The Jockey Club, said:
“We have raised the £45 million required for our major development at the home of Jump racing ahead of schedule. This exciting project will add much to the customer experience at Cheltenham.
“In the last thirty years, more than £80 million has been spent on Cheltenham’s facilities. It is fitting our Group's largest ever single investment coincides with the 50th anniversary of Racecourse Holdings Trust, which was formed in 1964 to acquire and protect Cheltenham Racecourse, then later became Jockey Club Racecourses.
“I should like to congratulate The Jockey Club executive, our Cheltenham development funding group and the racecourse team for swiftly and efficiently securing the financing package for this important next step in Cheltenham’s future.”
Ian Renton, Cheltenham and South West Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, said:
"I'm delighted the full funding required for our new grandstand has been secured and welcome Kier to the project as our main contractor following their highly impressive tender. We will work closely together to ensure the development is delivered on time and within budget.
"The new grandstand has been designed to provide improved facilities for all racegoers as well as racehorse owners, trainers, boxholders and those joining our new Super Club. The building work will begin in earnest after The Festival next month and we have an exciting 22 months ahead until it is ready in time for The Festival in 2016."
Ian Cheung, Managing Director of Kier Construction’s Central Operations, said:
“We are very excited to be appointed construction contractors for this prestigious project and we look forward to renewing our working relationship with the racecourse team. It is a challenging project, but we will work hard to ensure that throughout the works the impact on the racing calendar is kept to a minimum. Our racecourse team all live locally and are looking forward to delivering this fantastic facility for The Jockey Club and Cheltenham.”
Ian Heeley, Kier’s Contracts Manager for the project, said:
“We are delighted to secure this contract after many months of hard work and are thoroughly looking forward to working with the client team, the designers and our local supply chain to deliver high quality new facilities at Cheltenham Racecourse. There is a real buzz around the whole team involved in this project as we prepare to commence operations on site, following The Festival.
“It is a real privilege for me to have the opportunity to lead the project team on this high profile construction project, especially as it is in my home town. The Kier project team all live locally and we understand the importance of the racecourse and The Festival to our local economy and community.”
On 28th March 2013, following The Festival, The Jockey Club unveiled its £45 million Cheltenham development concept. A detailed planning application was made in mid-April, following public consultation, and planning consent was awarded in mid-July following a unanimous vote in favour of the proposal by Cheltenham District Council.
At a projected £45 million, the development is The Jockey Club's largest single investment in facilities and builds on more than £80 million invested in facilities at Cheltenham in the last 30 years. The Jockey Club, which runs 15 racecourses in the UK, including Cheltenham, Aintree, Epsom Downs and both the Rowley Mile and July Course in Newmarket, has funded more than £175 million of capital expenditure in the last ten years including new and upgraded facilities for customers and racing's participants, such as new grandstands at Aintree (£31 million, two grandstands) and Epsom Downs (£28 million, one grandstand). It has also distributed more than £350 million in prize money over the same period.