Cheltenham to get £45m facelift in time for 2016 Festival
Cheltenham pilgrims can looking forward to a spanking new grandstand at the track for the 2016 Festival.
Almost a decade after racecourse officials first started thinking aloud about a potential new grandstand, Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR) has announced more detailed plans for a state-of-the-art £45m development – the largest single capital investment in the group's history.
With a capacity for 6,500 it will replace the old 1920s-built stand and the Royal Box. The Jockey Club is confident finance for the project will be achieved by "commercially efficient methods" – to be made public at a later date.
The development will include new annual members' facilities, general public viewing areas, private boxes and Royal Box facilities.
The Jockey Club investment will include improvements for owners and trainers, and focus on enhancing the overall customer experience at the racecourse, including elevated walkways to ease mobility and multi-tiered viewing of the parade ring.
It is hoped the main development will begin immediately after the 2014 Festival with a scheduled completion date ahead of the big meeting two years later. During the construction period, Cheltenham plans to continue staging its race programme as normal.
On the Flat, a new draw was yesterday made for the re-arranged William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster on Saturday, and leading ante-post fancy Lahaag was again handed stall six.
The John Gosden-trained four-year-old was given that number at last week's draw and the same number was pulled out for him for a second time.
His stablemate Eshtibaak will run from stall 20, while the well-backed Captain Bertie from Charlie Hills' stable is next to Lahaag in stall seven.
The race was lost to the snow last weekend but the meeting was saved and has still attracted a maximum field of 22.
Majestic Myles, which heads the weights on 9st 10lb, will come from stall 11.
His trainer Richard Fahey took the prize 12 months ago with Brae Hill and he will race from gate 19. Fahey also has Justonefortheroad, which will be in stall 10.
In faraway Meydan, St Nicholas Abbey will work under Joseph O'Brien today ahead of his bid for glory in tomorrow's Dubai Sheema Classic.
Aidan O'Brien's top-class middle-distance performer was last seen finishing a close third when defending his crown in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita in early November and has pleased connections since arriving in Dubai.
He trotted in the quarantine barn yesterday morning, but will take to the racecourse this morning.
O'Brien's travelling head lad Pat Keating said: "Everything is fine – we couldn't be happier with all the horses.
"They are due to go out on the Tapeta on Friday, when the plan is for Joseph to have a sit on him (St Nicholas Abbey)." (© Daily Telegraph, London)