North racehorse trainer urges industry to carefully consider plans for all-weather track in the region

Darlington and Stockton Times: Catterick racecourse Catterick racecourse

A LEADING racehorse trainer has urged the industry to scrutinise all options before passing plans for the first all-weather track in the North.

Tom Tate, the regional chairman of the National Trainers Federation, said the body had spelt out a wishlist of requirements for a new course to the British Horseracing Association (BHA) following the Newcastle and Catterick Bridge tracks unveiling plans to host floodlit meetings on an artificial surface.

It is understood seasonal jobs at stables across North Yorkshire and the North-East could be made permanent if the BHA approves a course for winter and evening meetings in the North.

Mr Tate said: "At this stage it is not a question of preferring Catterick or Newcastle - other options may also come forward.

"This decision should not be hurried.

"We would like a good galloping track with easy bends, so you can run more horses on it. At present it [Catterick] is known to be a sharp track, but Catterick might say they can change that."

He said the cost of attending meetings at all-weather tracks, which are all in the South or Midlands, was prohibitive and affecting the region's industry.

Mr Tate said at a meeting with the BHA at Catterick, members had said the ideal location for the new track would be no further south than Wetherby, near to the A1 and the training centres of Middleham and Malton.

He said: "What is good for the north of England is our nearest all-weather track is Southall or Wolverhampton, which means at least a 300-mile round trip, and a new course in the North will mean greatly reduced journeys for members."

He added members had told the BHA they felt as Newcastle Racecourse's owners, Arena Racing Company, already owns three of Britain's four all-weather courses, and the transformation of the track their would further strengthen the firm's hand, despite sustained criticism of the prize-money levels at a number of all-weather tracks.

A spokesman for the BHA, which also met with the Catterick course's management, said it had commissioned Deloitte to produce a report on the consequences of expanding all-weather racing in Britain.

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