Walsh not against Kempton closure

Ruby Walsh says he would be sad if Kempton Park closed but does not think it will necessarily be bad for jumps racing.

The track’s owner, the Jockey Club, announced on Tuesday it is planning to shut the track in 2021 so the site can be used for housing development.

As a compromise to closing Kempton, the Jockey Club says it will invest £500million into horse racing over a 10-year period, while Sandown will undergo a significant redevelopment in order to host big races like the King George VI Chase.

An all-weather track near the original Sunbury has also been proposed but the plan has met strong criticism from several prominent figures in racing, including trainer Nicky Henderson, who says closing Kempton is a major blow to jumps racing.

Walsh is not so sure it is all bad news though, claiming the plans could end up benefiting racing.

He told www.racinguk.com: “I really don’t think shutting Kempton Park is necessarily bad for jumps racing, like a lot of people are making out.

“If you do stand still in any walk of life, then you risk being left behind and fading away, but the Jockey Club are doing the opposite by looking to the future.

“We hear every day that prize-money is the biggest issue in racing; well they have pledged to invest £250m into prize-money, half of which is going into jumps racing.

“None of those jumps fixtures from Kempton Park will be lost as apparently they will be rehoused at different tracks all over the country.

“I would have a big problem if the Jockey Club were pocketing all this money from the housing development, but they’re not and we shouldn’t lose sight of that.”

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