THE Kelso racecourse will have a new layout for the forthcoming season after the board decided change was needed to suit the modern day demands of the fixture list.
Managing director Richard Landale explained that the decision to forego tradition for the sake of progress was a “no-brainer”, while clerk of the course Hazel Peplinski said the changes will give racegoers a greater spectacle.
Mr Landale said: “The decision to alter the course has not been taken lightly.
“We had a series of meetings with racing professionals and long established associates of the racecourse over the prospects of altering the course, the results being an overwhelming decision to modernise.”
Modern day race programmes result in 65 per cent of Kelso runners competing on the hurdle course (including bumper races) and only 35 per cent on the chase course.
However, the hurdle course, which also accommodated the finishing straight for the Chasers, was vastly more restricted in width due to the positioning of the Chase fence in front of the main stands, and yet all horses under both codes finished up the hurdle home straight whereas the chase course was relatively under-utilised.
It is thought that the “elbow” on the chase course was first designed because of the original water jump in front of the stands. Subsequently the water jump was replaced with a plain fence which needs to have by-passing space around it for safety and welfare.
The new layout has removed this fence entirely and shall confine Chasers to finishing on their own track with the elbow and long run in being consigned to the history books. The resultant benefits to the track and horse welfare were significant enough to persuade the board to make the change.
Clerk of the course Hazel Peplinski explained: “By prioritising optimum use of the turf and giving the hurdle course so much greater width in the home straight we have created a host of additional benefits for the future at Kelso.
“We have so many more options as to where to site hurdles and the last obstacles in both chase and hurdle races will be so much nearer the stands, which will give our racegoers a greater spectacle”.