And they're on! Southwell race course re-opens after floods
SOUTHWELL Racecourse is preparing its first meeting in over two months, after being hit by floods.
The venue's all-weather and turf tracks were closed at the end of November when the nearby River Greet burst its banks.
More heavy rain and flooding in December left the course under 18 inches of water in places, causing damage to buildings including the main grandstand. More than 20 race fixtures have either been cancelled or moved to new venues.
But the all-weather track is set to reopen tomorrow after major repairs and passing inspections.
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Roderick Duncan, clerk of the course, said: "We'll be pretty much back to normal. A lot of the all-weather track has been replaced. About 80 per cent of it got either washed away or contaminated. We are going to open with limited public facilities, as the ground floor of the grandstand will be closed. We will be working to put the place back as they expect it as soon as possible."
Mr Duncan said he hoped all eight meetings this month would go ahead as planned.
The ground floor of the main grandstand, however, will remain closed until repairs are completed.
Nine all-weather fixtures scheduled at Southwell in December were moved to Wolverhampton, Lingfield, and Towcester.
A further 11 all-weather meetings set for January had to be take place at Wolverhampton and Lingfield.
Southwell also lost a jumps fixture on the grass in December, and two further National Hunt meetings over the jumps in January.
A jumps meeting planned for today has also been abandoned as the turf hasn't dried out enough. But managers hope it will be ready for a jumps fixture on February 18.
Mr Duncan said: "We are working with the Environment Agency and other agencies to try to prevent it happening again.
"We want improved flood defences and improvements to the condition of the main watercourse on our boundary."
Kate Hills, public relations director for Arena Racing Company, which owns Southwell Racecourse, said: "It's been a huge blow from a business point of view. We're doing everything we can to try and minimise the risk of it happening again, and are looking forward to welcoming people back."
Neither Mr Duncan nor Arena were able to say how much money the course had lost.
Arena previously told the Post that losing 12 fixtures over November and December cost Southwell Racecourse "hundreds of thousands" of pounds in lost revenue.