End of an era for Hereford

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Hereford is anything but the prettiest or the most popular of Britain’s racecourses – but it was easy to sympathise with those who care about it as the gates shut for quite possibly the final time yesterday.

Meetings have been staged at Hereford for more than 240 years and a decent crowd of 2,600 gathered to bid farewell – around twice as many as usual according to clerk of the course Keith Ottesen. But it could not quite be said the locals had turned out in force as only 1,100 of those were actual paying customers.

Some 500 tickets were distributed free locally and others were taken by those involved, with general manager Darren Cook saying he was “disappointed, as we promoted it heavily”.

Disputes with the local council over the lease have led to the owner Arena Racing Company (ARC) deciding to curtail a business which it says is not financially viable.

Even if this is the case, any of the remaining races of even vague importance have long been transferred elsewhere and recent investment in the facilities at the venue is non-existent, with the bar for owners and trainers housed in a fairly dilapidated shack.

Unless a new party comes in, and there has been talk but apparently no concrete evidence, it is likely it will lie dormant for the remaining 17 years of the lease.