Kempton Park: the racecourse’s future is under threat
PICTURE: Getty Images
By Peter Scargill 7:15aM 16 JAN 2017
A CAMPAIGN group set up to stop plans to sell off Kempton racecourse for housing has promised protests at the Cheltenham Festival and outside the Jockey Club’s head office in London.
The ‘Save Kempton Park’ group was established last week by David Dent to focus the anger and discontent of many racing fans and professionals towards the Jockey Club. Numbers have quickly swollen to over 3,000 on Facebook and plans for a show of dissatisfaction are already being drawn up.
Dent said on Sunday: “A lot people are not just upset and trying to save Kempton Park but they feel racing has not been well marketed by the Jockey Club. There’s a lot of ill-feeling towards the Jockey Club and this is being vented.
“There are no really big meetings at Kempton until after the Cheltenham Festival and the feeling in the group is we’d like to do something at Cheltenham. We want to try and hit them where it hurts but the average racegoer is not a demonstrator – it’s not in their nature. What we do will be quiet, it will be considered and it will be strong.”
‘This group and this issue isn’t going away’
Dent says his group has been in touch with a number of MPs over the issue of Kempton and would be looking to call on their support when a protest is organised outside the Jockey Club HQ.
He said: “We’re not going to abuse anyone but we’re thinking of protesting outside their offices and this would be done alongside a couple of the MPs we’ve spoken to and hopefully racing professionals as well.
“This group and this issue isn’t going away. This is going to grow and grow and if the Jockey Club swing at us they’ll be making an awful mistake.”
A number of smaller campaign groups have also been set up since the plans were unveiled last week and discussions are already under way between Dent and the others in an attempt to bring them together as one force.
Legacy cannot be replaced
He added that a number of professionals both inside and outside of the sport were offering to lend a hand in the campaign’s organisation.
“All of us in racing, particularly jumps racing, have very strong feelings about Kempton,” he said. “We have a team of people that have quickly come to our aid; legal people, people who are au fait with dealing with MPs and planners as well who seem as incredulous about it as we do. We feel it’s treachery.
“The likes of Nicky Henderson and Oliver Sherwood have been very brave in speaking out against the plans and others are helping but in a quieter way as they fear ramifications.”
Among those to have joined the campaign and voiced their opinion is former champion jockey Peter Scudamore, who said: “The money will come and go but it will never replace the legacy of these great horses around Kempton.”