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Last Updated: Friday, 22 December 2006, 17:08 GMT
Great Leighs faces further delay
Taunton racecourse
Taunton, which opened in 1927, was the last new British racecourse
The opening of Great Leighs, Britain's first new racetrack since 1927, has been further delayed.

The Essex course was originally due to have begun staging races last October but that was put back until February.

And British Horseracing Board acting chief executive Chris Brand said on Friday the all-weather Essex course would again not be ready in time.

He added: "There is every indication that Great Leighs will not be ready to race in late March either."

Great Leighs' four fixtures between 22 February and 15 March 2007 have been returned to BHB, with details regarding their reallocation to be announced in due course.

This delay is further disappointing news

BHB acting chief executive Chris Brand

The announcement follows a visit from the HRA Inspectorate to Great Leighs on Monday.

The next formal visit by the HRA Inspectorate will now take place in late January 2007.

"This delay is further disappointing news," said Brand. "We are unable to comment any further until Great Leighs meets other conditions laid down by BHB relating to its 2007 fixtures."

The Great Leighs website said the delay was caused when "a ruling by the Lands Tribunal over the provision of a dual carriageway underpass forced major reconfiguration of the site".

John Holmes, chairman of Great Leighs Racing, said: "It has been a painful decision, and we have worked 24-7 to reinvent the track and its business plan for start-up over the past few months.

"I want to be back in the driving seat. In scrambling to meet contrived deadlines with this new scenario, we would have given all the wrong messages about a project with world-class ambitions."

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