sport

Warwick makes jumps-only move

Warwick racecourse will stage only jumps fixtures from 2015 onwards, Jockey Club Racecourses has announced.

Warwick racecourse will stage only jumps fixtures from 2015 onwards, Jockey Club Racecourses has announced.

The course will host 17 jumps meeting as it moves away from Flat racing in an attempt to become regarded as one of the leading small National Hunt courses in the next five years.

The current Flat course will be used in the spring or autumn, alongside the current jumps course which will continue to be used through the winter.

Six of Warwick's current 10 Flat fixtures will become jumps cards, with the other four racedays transferring to Nottingham - which takes on two meetings - Carlisle and Epsom.

Warwick was the first course to stage National Hunt racing in Great Britain in 1831. Ian Renton, the Jockey Club Racecourses regional director responsible for Warwick, said: "Warwick can now benefit from a clear identity and, in the coming years, significant investment as a top-quality small jumps course.

"I have every confidence it will succeed because we are building on Warwick's existing strengths, which has been underlined by the industry's support for jumps racing through the consultation we have carried out over the last few months.

"We could invest further in the Flat track at Warwick, such as increasing the camber, but that work would just return the Flat course to a position where the course has been struggling.

"It's not a decision we've taken lightly but I feel we have left no stone unturned to ensure this is the right move for British racing in the long term.

"It's time for Warwick not just to survive, but thrive."

Leading National Hunt trainer Nicky Henderson welcomed the news, saying: "Warwick is a very fair course that has good, competitive jumps racing, especially in the novice chase and novice hurdle departments.

"The fences are nicely sighted, they can be a little challenging down the back, but they are of a good size.

"We run plenty of horses there and with good, competitive novice hurdles and novice chases the field sizes are always good.

"It is very positive that the current Flat course is being transferred as additional space to run the jumps races, and to have the flexibility of that extra ground.

"The ground can get testing in the winter, making the spring ground less desirable, but it's a bonus that this issue will be resolved to allow for the space to run the extra fixtures that have been introduced during the spring and the autumn.

"Geographically, it is very well situated for us in Lambourn and it is an inviting course for all sorts of horses.

"The prize-money at Warwick has always been good and they run some good races there."