Musselburgh cleared to race

Musselburgh racecourse

Next Friday's race meeting at Musselburgh has been given the go-ahead after the committee that oversees the track was granted a temporary licence by the British Horseracing Authority on Friday.

The fixture had been under threat unless the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee agreed to an independent review of its governance by Thursday evening.

That seemed unlikely at one stage as the MJRC chairman, Councillor Willie Innes, of East Lothian Council, had not convened a meeting of its members to discuss the matter until next Tuesday.

However, Coun Innes found that the MJRC members, made up of four representatives from East Lothian Council and three from the Lothian Racing Syndicate, had no objection to a review.

The BHA extended the deadline to noon today and have now issued a licence until the end of the year.

The BHA said in a statement: "The British Horseracing Authority has today confirmed that Musselburgh Racecourse has been issued with a temporary licence until December 31, 2017.

"This follows agreement from the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee and East Lothian Council that an independent governance review should take place, with a nine-month timeline for completion and implementation of recommendations.

"Having had the opportunity to clarify some issues with the MJRC, the BHA is satisfied that its licence condition has now been met.

"As a consequence, Musselburgh's forthcoming fixtures on 14 and 25 July can go ahead."

The news racing can continue as normal has been welcomed by interested parties, who are determined to ensure the racecourse can put the chapter of uncertainty behind it.

Musselburgh racecourse chief executive Bill Farnsworth said: "We are relieved that the BHA has been able to issue a licence to Musselburgh Racecourse which will allow our next meeting on Friday, July 14 to proceed as scheduled.

"We are aware recent events have caused much uncertainty in the racing industry and we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused. We would urge racing fans, owners and trainers to support Musselburgh at this meeting as we seek to find a long-term solution to this unfortunate situation.

"We hope the proposed independent governance review will create a modern blueprint which puts the interests of the racecourse first and prevents any similar situation from arising in the future."

John Prideaux, one of three Lothian Racing Syndicate members on the seven-strong MJRC, said: "We are relieved that a last-minute solution has been found to meet the licensing requirements of the BHA and that racing will go ahead at Musselburgh on July 14.

"This regretful and drawn-out episode has been extremely damaging to the reputation of Musselburgh Racecourse and we must now focus on rebuilding confidence in what is one of the Scotland's best sporting assets.

"The Lothian Racing Syndicate made clear from the outset that we support the BHA requirement to hold a governance review and welcome the BHA 's insistence that the review be wholly independent and not simply commissioned by East Lothian Council as Coun Innes wanted.

"We are committed to working with other MJRC members to ensure the best possible outcome for hard working racecourse staff and the racegoers, trainers and owners who have supported Musselburgh over the years."

Coun Innes was pleased with the news and confirmed his commitment to the racecourse."I welcome the BHA's decision and will continue to progress matters positively in order to safeguard the future of racing at Musselburgh," he said."I also welcome the BHA's confirmation that upcoming race meetings can go ahead."

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