Proposals to build all-weather track at Newcastle welcomed

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TOP Yorkshire trainer Richard Fahey has given his backing to ambitious plans to build a floodlit all-weather track at Newcastle by 2015.

His comments come after owners Arena Racing Company (ARC) unveiled proposals to replace the existing turf Flat course at the North East venue with an all-weather surface that would incorporate the only floodlit straight mile in the world.

The existing turf jumps track would be unaffected. “We are desperately in need of an all-weather track up north,” said Malton-based Fahey.

“I hoped one of the tracks nearer to Malton might have wanted to do it, but fair play to Newcastle.

“Southwell has the best layout of the current tracks but the worst surface, some horses just don’t act there.

“There’s talk of Wolverhampton being resurfaced and the other two tracks – Kempton and Lingfield – are just too far away from us.

“We need it, there’s no doubt about that, and I hope they get the layout right with a good, long straight. I know Musselburgh were keen for an all-weather but that’s too far from us as well. Newcastle’s location isn’t ideal for us but I’m all for it, we’ll definitely support it. I’d be amazed it they didn’t get permission.”

The proposals would also see investment made at the track including a general upgrading of facilities and a new layout of the pre-parade and saddling facilities.

It follows the decision by Arc to invest new money into the all-weather programme, culminating with a £1m fixture at Lingfield next year to mark the introduction of racing on a Good Friday.

n York head groundsman Adrian Kay has landed another top accolade.

He won the coveted overall national title of ‘The Alex R Millar Award’ for being Professional Groundsman of the Year, an award organised by the Institute of Groundsman.

Kay saw off competition from the worlds of professional football, rugby, cricket and tennis as well as horse racing. Aged 46, he started working on the Knavesmire seven years ago and lives in York with his son, Lewis, and his partner, Nicola, who is operations manager at Elland Road.

n Guiseley-born Dominic Elsworth hopes to end a turbulent week by winning today’s Group One Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on the Mick Channon-trained Somersby.

Elsworth was involved in a weighing room fracas at Newbury on Friday last week that saw veteran rider Timmy Murphy suffer a shoulder injury and incur a nine-day suspension.

Somersby, a horse nurtured by Henrietta Knight, beat the highly-rated Cue Card on his seasonal reappearance in the Haldon Gold Cup.

His task, still formidable, is made easier by the absence of superstar Sprinter Sacre.

“He’s come out of that race well, he looks to have improved for the run also and the ground should be absolutely perfect for him,” said the jockey.

“Last year was a complete washout but, if you forget that, he’s got a big chance, he pushed Master Minded to a short-head at his best.”