Hereford Closes Its Gates

The owners of Hereford Racecourse say they are open to negotiations to bring back racing at the track in the future, and are hopeful a deal will be done in the next few months for meetings in 2014.

But for now, ARC (Arena Racing Company), the firm which owns the lease from Hereford Council, has decided it is no longer financially viable to keep the course open after Sunday's card.

Hereford, which first staged racing in 1771, becomes the first course in Britain since Stockton in 1981 to close its doors.

ARC will also close Folkestone Racecourse, another of the tracks they control, after the next meeting on Tuesday.

ARC Assistant racing director Jim Allen said: "It (Hereford) closes today but we're leaving two groundstaff here and keeping everything as it is as a racecourse.

"The fences and running rail will be maintained as well, we will be cutting and fertilising the track and there will be a site manager to maintain stands and buildings.

"We're still willing to talk to anyone that comes along but at the moment no-one has approached us. We'd like to see racing continue at Hereford at some point in the future and we'll do what we can to make that happen. The same goes at Folkestone."

"There has been one redundancy and all the rest of the staff have found new jobs. There are 17 years left on the lease and any racecourse or body can come and talk to us about it. The council has come back to us about a new 125-year lease, but this has only recently been received. It is very brief and there will be a meeting at some point in the new year.

"We'll be maintaining it, it will stay as it and there is still every opportunity that some fixtures in 2014 will return here. The BHA (British Horseracing Authority) normally start the fixture list around February and finish in June or July and we've applied for a licence for Hereford next year.

"But we are preparing to shut down and are not expecting to race in 2013. In 2014 I could see it in action, but the nuts and bolts of it are it doesn't make much money and that's why we're closing it.

"Two years ago it staged 19 meetings, still not making money and even with media rights having improved, it was still not financially viable. They are big beasts to run, and no business people have come to us to take it on."