Chelmsford under fire “has absolutely no interest in going behind closed doors” | horse racing news

Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

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Chelmsford: An independently owned circuit set up on Thursday although its sports bar – a major public admission facility for race-goers – is booked for a private event

Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

Chelmsford insists he has no plans to move the race permanently behind closed doors after kick-off on Thursday night without offering public admission to the public, prompting criticism from attendees.

The six-race card was one of six meetings added to the calendar after losing matches in the period following the Queen’s death this month.

The independently owned track took over the match although its sports bar – a major general admission facility for race-goers – was booked for a private event, providing only a hospitality package for members of the public looking forward to attend.

About 60 people accepted the offer for a four-course meal, but other than that only the track members, coaches, and owners were in attendance.

Nathan Holmes, chief commercial officer at Chelmsford, said: “We understand there was some grumbling about the decision at Thursday night’s meeting, so being able to give a clearer picture is very important.

“The BHA and several other racetracks contacted us last weekend about the opportunity to salvage several meetings. We chose one, and the basis for that decision was that they needed horses of a certain level to give them a chance to escape.

“We wanted to try to support this initiative but the challenge was that there were only six days to put together the public side of things. The Sports Bar, which is our main public entry facility and includes our main bars and food outlets, is already designated by a member of the Public Services Branch for a private event. .

“Like many sports venues across the country, we are using our facilities to try and encourage private hiring and rental venues. He’s been contracted months in advance, which means we can’t facilitate public acceptance.

“We still wanted people to come racing, but in the end we weren’t able to provide a good enough experience for those people who would come in a short time.”

He added: “This was a decision made under very abnormal circumstances. We have absolutely no interest in going behind closed doors. Chelmsford Racecourse would never race behind closed doors unless there was some sort of catastrophic cause, like Covid, when we were told by an administrative body.

“We really believe that the race pioneers are very fundamental to the future of the sport. And trying to dissuade them from coming is something we have absolutely no interest in.”

Former coach John Ferguson was among the small crowd on the course and felt the decision not to gain public acceptance was worrisome.

“I was there and there was almost no one as there was no public acceptance,” Ferguson said. “It was like going back to racing under Covid restrictions. It’s the beginning of the end if that kind of thing is going on.”

Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)

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Julia Fielden: The coach criticized Chelmsford’s decision not to open up to public acceptance

Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)

“There was no atmosphere” at the Essex track, said coach Julia Fielden, who likewise compared it to racing behind closed doors.

She said, “It was like I was in custody – it was absolutely ridiculous. There was no one except the owners really. Everyone was saying how there was no atmosphere; he was just dead.”

The other five additional matches will take place at Arena Racing Company-owned tracks Southwell, Yarmouth, Newcastle and Wolverhampton, with grandstand tickets available for purchase in advance at each racetrack location.

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