Walsh: Kempton closure ‘makes sense’
Ruby Walsh admits that while he would be sad if Kempton were to close, he thinks the decision "just makes sense".
Kauto Star returns to the winner's enclosure at Kempton under Ruby Walsh.
It was announced on Tuesday that the Sunbury venue could be closed for housing redevelopment "from 2021 at the earliest".
The track's owner, the Jockey Club, hopes to invest £500million into the sport in a 10-year plan, with nearby Sandown receiving some significant upgrades as well as being the proposed new home for the King George VI Chase and a clutch of other big Kempton races.
A number of leading National Hunt figures, including trainer Nicky Henderson, have spoken of their dismay at the proposals but Walsh, who enjoyed a record five King George wins aboard Kauto Star at Kempton, thinks the proposal is positive for racing.
He told www.racinguk.com: "I really don't think shutting Kempton Park is necessarily bad for jumps racing, like a lot of people are making out.
"If you do stand still in any walk of life, then you risk being left behind and fading away, but the Jockey Club are doing the opposite by looking to the future.
"We hear every day that prize-money is the biggest issue in racing; well they have pledged to invest #250m into prize-money, half of which is going into jumps racing.
"None of those jumps fixtures from Kempton Park will be lost as apparently they will be rehoused at different tracks all over the country.
"I would have a big problem if the Jockey Club were pocketing all this money from the housing development, but they're not and we shouldn't lose sight of that.
"To be honest it wasn't the biggest surprise, Kempton gets a great crowd for Boxing Day, but that's one day a year.
"Of course, I have some great memories of Kempton Park and have enjoyed some magical days which I will never forget, thanks to Kauto Star, so it is sad that there may not be racing there from 2021. But looking at it in a cold, detached way, this move just makes sense."
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