We have seen Cycling and Formula 1 on city streets around the world and there are plans in place to introduce horse racing to the city centre streets of London, of all places. The BHA have confirmed that they have been in talks with a company to make this dream a possibility in a bid to gain new horse racing fans which in turn could see attendances go up at race courses around the United Kingdom.
Johnno Spencer, who is a racing consultant, suggested that his company have had talks with the BHA and he plans to make this a project a reality as soon as September 2017. Mr Spencer, owner of City Racing said “We’re looking into a city-centre international racing series, which is very exciting, but first we need to get the commercial model in place. We’re working with an industry-backed consortium looking to run under the rules of racing and we’re at quite an advanced stage. We could have our first event in London as early as September this year, with the series expanding around the world over the next few years.”
The other company with a bid in is GAG 407 Limited and if successful, they plan to name their venue for the inaugural event to take place in 2018. Their CEO Olly Neil said “We will create a global circuit of horse racing events with high-quality local horses thundering down iconic city streets ridden by the world’s top jockeys. We’re going to do for horse racing what Twenty20 has done for cricket and 3×3 for basketball – reinterpreting the Sport of Kings for a young urban audience and dialling up on technology, entertainment, excitement and energy.”
Would the BHA approve such a move?
As far as we’re concerned, this is all hot air at the moment. Imagine horses’ running down the city centre streets of London at 30-40 miles per hour on concrete? There has to be huge safety concerns and for it to be a success, it would cost an absolute fortune. Not only that, London is such a busy place for motorists and pedestrians so could they afford to close off the city centre for a day or two so that this can take place? It is a beautiful idea but probably not a realistic one at this stage.
However, the BHA remain positive that they can work it. Their spokesperson Robin Mounsey said “Any proposal would require BHA approval and clearly there are significant issues, including logistical and welfare-related, that would need to be addressed before any application could be processed.”
Rod Street of Great British Racing said: “The ‘street racing’ concept has appeared in a few different iterations over the years. A number of operators have claimed to be close to delivering something. In principle, I’m very supportive of any initiative that presents horse racing in an exciting way to a broader audience. The notion of races being run in the nation’s capital sounds fun and I imagine the public would enjoy it. I can see what an attractive proposition this could be if done properly and racing should be open to such entrepreneurial initiatives.”