A £10 million futuristic ‘gallop in the sky’ is being planned by Jockey Club Estates to boost racehorse training facilities in Newmarket’s Hamilton Road.
The Hill Gallop will be constructed to mimic Headquarter’s iconic Warren Hill giving trainers on the opposite side of town a training asset vital to the conditioning of racehorses right on their doorstep.
The ambitious plan, which will be submitted to the local planning authority next month, revolves around the building of an all-weather gallop which will start five metres below ground level before rising 30 metres on an flyover-like construction covering four and a half furlongs. It will be wide enough for two horses to work upsides and there will be a separate track running alongside for use by emergency vehicles.
The project has been five years in the planning and has the full backing of Newmarket trainers including Sir Mark Prescott who has been training in the town for 47 years and is chairman of the heath committee.
William Gittus, managing director of Jockey Club Estates said the location of the state-of-the-art gallop would be the key to its success as it was hoped access to such a facility would attract more trainers and horses to the Hamilton Road yards.
Occupancy rates in the training yards on the Bury side of town is currently around 90 per cent compared with less than 60 per cent on Racecourse Side and trainers have cited the proximity of the uphill canters on Warren Hill, which are used by over 2,000 horses a day, as the key factor in this discrepancy.
“To enable further growth, and the economic benefits and employment that will bring to the district, we need to encourage more trainers to base themselves on Racecourse Side where there is scope for expansion,” said Mr Gittus.
Two years ago he and project team leader and assistant managing director of Jockey Club Estates Nick Patton, travelled to Japan to view its gallops built on man-made inclines. “That was definitely a turning point,” said Mr Patton. “It really opened my eyes to what could be done with a little innovation.” said Mr Patton.
“It’s wonderful to have reached a point at which we are now ready to submit the planning application. A lot of people have contributed to the development of the project and a design committee which includes trainers and vets, has played an integral role in the process.
“This is about Jockey Club Estates planning ten, 15, 20 years ahead and Newmarket maintaining its status as a world-class centre of excellence for the training of thoroughbred racehorses. Newmarket’s development as the HQ of racing is built on its history and heritage and the centuries-old turf of the Heath, but its future health could be shaped by 21st century technology and this gallop in the sky.”