Towcester have offered to step in should GRA boss Clive Feltham relinquish rights to the St.Leger and Oaks writes Floyd Amphlett.
There was no slot for either on the recently published GBGB fixture list for the second half of the year, with Feltham, the leaseholder at Belle Vue (Oaks) and Perry Barr (St.Leger) promising a decision within a week.
He said: “To be honest, we were a little slow off the mark and have only recently been discussing the options. At this stage, there is still a possibility that we might still run the Leger, the Oaks perhaps a little less likely. Given the prestige of both competitions, I am not prepared to simply shelve them so they aren’t staged, nor would I want to see them downgraded into lesser events.”
Prior to releasing a series of other major events, the rights of which have been owned by GRA since their inception in the late 1920s, Feltham has looked for guarantees that they would not be downgraded. So does he consider Towcester as potential venues for two of the former classics?
He replied: “Yes, I would have thought so. They have done very well with the Derby and would appear to tick all the boxes.”
Towcester Managing Director Kevin Ackerman said: “We have never hidden our ambition to secure more top class events and they don’t get much better than the Oaks and St.Leger – if Clive does decide to relinquish them.
“I can imagine there might be other interested parties. The only guarantees that we could offer is an assurance that, as a bare minimum, we would maintain last year’s total prize funds.
“If we were successful in acquiring the events, I believe we would look carefully at how the total prize fund is distributed, much like we have done with the Derby, to ensure there is an equitable distribution through the rounds for all participating owners/trainers but still maintains a strong winners purse. For example, the winner last year collected £25,000 but winners in the first two rounds only received £150.
“Of course, should we be able to find a suitable sponsor, then prize money would increase. If another track wants to offer more and the competitions go to them, then surely the biggest beneficiary is greyhound racing?”