Deadline to race at Musselburgh

Musselburgh racecourse has been plunged into further crisis following the decision by the British Horseracing Authority not to renew its licence to race.

While talks between the BHA and the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee remain ongoing, the racecourse's temporary licence has lapsed.

The BHA said in a statement: "The BHA can confirm that Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee (MJRC) has not met the conditions set by the BHA for the renewal of its racecourse licence by the required deadline of today.

"This is despite frequent ongoing discussions with the MJRC initiated by the BHA on the issues of concern since late in 2016. Accordingly, Musselburgh racecourse's licence has, for the time being, lapsed.

"While discussions continue – and it remains open to the MJRC to reapply for a licence at any time – it is very much in the hands of the MJRC to meet the necessary licence conditions so that racing can continue at Musselburgh."

The racecourse is jointly run by three members of the Lothian Racing Syndicate (LRS) along with four council members, comprising the MJRC.

It emerged in April that clashes between the two parties had prompted the BHA to issue only a temporary licence to the end of June, although hopes were raised for progress when former chairman John Caldwell failed to retain his place on East Lothian Council.

MJRC's new chairman is councillor Willie Innes.

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He issued the following statement: "The MJRC has responded to the BHA timeously and is continuing to engage with the BHA to progress matters positively and constructively.

"The MJRC is determined to secure the future of racing at Musselburgh."

The next meeting at Musselburgh is scheduled for July 14 and the BHA requires a licence to be in place by July 6 for that to go ahead.

The BHA statement continued: "That means, should it wish to continue with the fixture on July 14, the MJRC must provide an unequivocal commitment to meeting the licence conditions by close of business on July 6.

"Should that not be forthcoming, the BHA will confirm cancellation of the fixture at that time. In the event that it becomes necessary to cancel this fixture, the BHA does not plan to rearrange it as it falls outside the structure of core, funded fixtures and because there is a high volume of racing available at other tracks throughout this period.

"The race meeting on July 14 is a third Friday evening fixture programmed by the BHA primarily to attract more racegoers. We do not feel we could achieve such an objective with a fixture arranged at very short notice.

"The next scheduled fixture at Musselburgh after July 15 is Tuesday July 25. If the MJRC has not made a successful application for its licence by close of business on July 14, the BHA will take the necessary steps to reallocate this fixture to ensure that there remain two afternoon fixtures on July 25."

Trainer Jim Goldie is a member of the LRS. He remains optimistic a solution will soon be found.

He said: "We'll just have to watch this space. Hopefully it will be resolved shortly. The council have to address it. They (BHA) have only asked for an independent review of the governance.

"We need to get the governance sorted out. Unless that happens, it's always going to be difficult. The council will have to start towing the line.

"I don't think they realise the significance of it. They've been dragging their feet because of the election and the politics and the rest of it."

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