In a surprise announcement today the owners of Hereford and Folkestone racecourses, Northern and Arena Racing Group, have announced the closure of both tracks.

In the official press release below the company have outlined the reasons behind the permanent closure of Hereford and the ‘temporary’ closure of Folkestone.

Arena Leisure and Northern Racing has today announced the permanent closure of Hereford Racecourse and the temporary closure of Folkestone Racecourse.

The company has today set out plans to cease trading at Hereford and Folkestone racecourses at the end of the 2012 season.

The racecourse fixtures currently staged at Hereford and Folkestone will be transferred to other racecourses within the enlarged group. The company stated that Folkestone may re-open in the future, subject to on-going negotiations with Shepway Council.

Tony Kelly, Managing Director of the enlarged Group, said: “Hereford is owned by Herefordshire County Council and run under a lease arrangement.

“Attempts to extend the lease, which has 17 years remaining, have been unsuccessful. Despite being unviable for several years we have supported the racecourse but much-needed investment, required to breathe new life into the racecourse, cannot be justified in the absence of a long-term future for the business.

“Folkestone suffers from out-dated facilities and has been the subject of detailed discussion between the previous management, Arena Leisure, and Shepway District Council for several years now.

“The proposal for the site incorporated significant residential development, which would have enabled a new racecourse to be constructed with much enhanced amenities.

“However, these plans have been delayed following the recent Examination in Public of the local plan. Discussions will continue with Shepway District Council in the hope that there will be approval of development plans which would secure the future of the racecourse. If they succeed, work to reconfigure the racecourse could commence in 2013.

“Every effort to continue trading at these racecourses has been explored but it is with regret that a variety of circumstances means that this is no longer possible, therefore both Hereford and Folkestone racecourses will therefore cease trading at the end of the 2012 season.

“The fixtures will be transferred to other racecourses within the group, where we will be able to offer increased prize money and better quality facilities for connections and racegoers alike.”