Bell signals new plan to restart racing at Lanark

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The Independent Online

Racing could return to Lanark, 20 miles south of Glasgow, after a gap of nearly 24 years if plans by a local business group come to fruition.

David Hughes, who heads the Lanark Racing Development Company, said: "It all emanated from the predatory aspirations to have the Silver Bell removed from Lanark and this is what kicked the whole thing off."

Hughes was referring to a proposal by Morag Gray, chief executive of nearby Hamilton Park, to revive the race using the original bell, which is believed to be the oldest racing trophy in existence.

Ms Gray explained: "After Lanark closed the Silver Bell, which is owned by Lanarkshire Council, was moved to their Low Water museum in Hamilton. It's a beautiful trophy, and dates back to at least 1608, but it is still in the vaults.

"As I come from Lanark I've always had an affection for the course and about nine months ago I had discussions with the council with an idea to revive the race at Hamilton."

South Lanarkshire Council, had decided to build new sporting facilities on the course, which closed in 1977, but has agreed to a steering group being set up to create a business plan for racing at the track.

Hughes said: "It all hinges on what the British Horseracing Board would do as far as our proposal would be concerned. We have to put before them, the banks, any financial institutions – such as the Lottery and South Lanarkshire Council – the most attractive business plan possible.

"Based on that, the BHB, at a board meeting, will discuss the merits of the case and, if they decided it was in the best interests of racing, they would grant a licence.

"I'm hoping to go down to the BHB on 10 September with the view to receiving the technicalities of laying an all-weather track".

The plans include Flat meetings on turf and all-weather and hurdle races during the winter.