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Monday, April 10, 2000


Michael Bowler has been appointed as an independent member of the National Joint Pitch Council (NJPC) by the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

A retired solicitor and former senior partner of London-based legal practice, Harbottle & Lewis, Mr Bowler will take up office from May 1, 2000, for a period of two years.

The new appointee will be joining Tom Clarke who has been re-appointed as an independent member of the NJPC by the Levy Board.

Mr Clarke, who is a retired journalist and former editor of The Sporting Life, completes his first two-year period of office on April 30, 2000, with his re-appointment commencing on May 1, 2000, for a further two-year period.

Robert Hughes, Chairman of the Levy Board, commented today: "We are absolutely delighted that Mr Clarke has agreed to serve as an independent member of the NJPC for another two years.

"Mr Bowler will bring a wealth of experience with him from the legal world, and I am extremely happy to welcome him as a NJPC independent member from May 1."


The Horserace Betting Levy Board has approved a £100,000 interest-free loan for Plumpton Racecourse to go towards a new access road to the centre course area, better parking facilities for the general public, owners and trainers, and improvements to the track.

The total cost of the works has been estimated at 125,000 and it is hoped they will be completed by September.

The growing popularity of Plumpton has brought increased attendances, making the improvement of parking facilities a priority for the racecourse management.

The new access road to the centre course parking will have a tarmac surface and there will be a vehicle toll area to allow easier payment of charges.

The road accessing the public car park will also be tarmaced and additional parking spaces will be created by the levelling of a clay mound situated behind the Grandstand. This will enable the horse box car park to be enlarged and given hard standing.

The owners' and trainers' car park will have the existing grass areas replaced by hard standing containing suitable drainage.

These works will alleviate the problem of waterlogging which has occurred occasionally in the past.

The safety of racegoers travelling by train will be improved by the erection of a new fence between the footpath providing access to Plumpton railway station and the car park.

Additional track drainage is to be installed on the hurdle track at the top of the hill. This will complete a very successful track drainage project which has meant none of the last 29 race meetings being abandoned. The track will also benefit from the installation of new plastic running rails and wings to steeplechase fences.


Nottingham Racecourse has been awarded a £200,000 interest-free loan to refurbish its Tattersalls Grandstand by the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

The work includes a new and better-focused Grandstand entrance and a lift which will provide easy access to all floors.

On the first floor of the Grandstand, racegoers will be able to gain direct access to the viewing steppings.

On the second floor, a new restaurant will be created, whose customers will be able to view the course through glass frontage. New toilets and Tote facilities will also be installed.

In addition to racedays, the restaurant will also be used for conferences, banquets and exhibitions.

Work is set to begin in May and due to be completed by August. The estimated total cost of works is £433,000 - with the additional financing to be met from racecourse funds.

The Levy Board provides interest-free loans for British racecourses to enable them to improve facilities for racegoers.


Stratford Racecourse is further improving facilities for racegoers and has gained a £40,000 interest-free loan from the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

The loan will assist towards a new Owners' and Trainers' Seafood and Champagne Bar, with a patio area outside.

Existing facilities will also be upgraded, including the installation of air-conditioning in the Grandstand corporate hospitality boxes and the main entrance road to the racecourse will be relaid with new kerbs. The total cost of the works is estimated at nearly £58,000.

Stratford racegoers will not be inconvenienced, since the works will be undertaken between race meetings.

The Owners' and Trainers' facility takes the place of the former ground-floor racecourse offices which are located next to the pre-parade ring and the unsaddling boxes.

By establishing better facilities for owners and trainers, Stratford, already a very welcoming course, hopes to attract even more runners.


Martell Grand National winner, Papillon, could run next at the Punchestown Festival at the beginning of May.

Speaking yesterday, trainer Ted Walsh said: "He is in the Irish Grand National on Easter Monday, but if he did run again this season it would probably be at Punchestown instead.

"The Irish National is only two weeks away and I very much doubt if he will run.

"I have Rince Ri in the Heineken Gold Cup as well as Papillon but if the ground was quick Rince Ri wouldn't go there. He probably won't be running in the Irish Grand National either because I expect him to have top weight.

"I will have a look at Punchestwon for Papillon because the Heineken is a IR£120,000 race that could cut up badly.

"But it is far from certain Papillon will run again this season.

"Next year the plan will be to aim him at Aintree again. But there is no way he will run in the National if the ground is very soft. He just doesn't want to know about ground which is any way testing any more."

Celebrations in the Walsh's home town of Kill started early yesterday morning and continued throughout the day with hundreds of locals turning out to cheer the champion horse and the Walsh family.


Cavalero, who just missed the cut by one for the Martell Grand National, will run in the Ladbrokes Casinos Scottish Grand National at Ayr on Saturday. The horse was first reserve for the big race on Saturday but as there were no late withdrawals he missed out and is now being aimed at Ayr by trainer John Manners.

Audrey Manners, the trainer's wife, said: "We're planning for the Scottish and Alex Charles-Jones will ride him. He won't mind what the ground is like. It was a shame about Aintree because he was dead right for the race.

Other horses who could run include the Peter Beaumont-trained Young Kenny who fell at the 10th at Aintree and Paris Pike trained by Ferdy Murphy.


The provisional BBC viewing figures for the Martell Grand National released today found that a total of 8.6 million people watched the big race live on BBC TV - 72 percent of the audience at that time. The re-run of the race which was shown later on BBC was watched by 6.4 million people.


The Michael Stoute-trained King's Best, who won two races last term before finishing fifth in the Dewhurst at Newmarket on October 16, produced a sparkling Racecourse Side gallop ridden by Walter Swinburn on Saturday.

The three-year-old, who was described by American jockey, Gary Stevens, as being the best juvenile prospect that he had ridden in Britain, is a best-priced 25/1 with Hills and Surrey Racing for the Sagitta 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 6.

King's Best's preparation race for the Newmarket classic is likely to be the Group Three Lane's End Greenham Stakes at Newbury this coming Saturday.

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