First phase of St Mary’s Lands Masterplan work completed

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Mayor of Warwick, Cllr Stephen Cross, centre, with Andre Klein, general manager at Warwick Racecourse, to his left, and representatives of The Wigley Group and members of the racecourse committee. (Submitted photo)

THE new main entrance at Warwick Racecourse has been unveiled.

It is the first element of the at times controversial St Mary’s Lands Masterplan to improve the common land, which is home to the racecourse and other community assets.

The new-look gates are fronted by a public plaza at The Jockey Club-owned racecourse and was opened by the Mayor of Warwick, Cllr Stephen Cross.

He was joined by Andre Klein, general manager at Warwick Racecourse, Andy Clark, chairman of Warwick Racecourse, and Charlie Brooks, construction director of Wigley Building and Development, the principal contractor on the project.

The redevelopment, featuring a timber-clad entrance wall and canopy over new turnstiles, provides the racecourse with an improved entrance, and the public with an open landscaped area with seating that can be used all-year round.

Mr Klein said: “The new entrance has been my number one priority since arriving here.

“It provides a much more welcoming approach to our great racecourse and will hopefully encourage more people to come racing and experience a day at our track. The operational improvements are significant as well.

“This investment by The Jockey Club reflects a determination to set the course on a pathway to a prosperous future, and comes off the back of our increased attendances and our improving racing surface.

“It is part of a wider scheme to improve the gateway to St Mary’s Land which is a vitally important asset to Warwick.

“There has been a great team approach to this project with really valuable input from the community, in particular the members of the St Mary’s Land Working Party and Warwick District Council, who have contributed at every stage.”

Around 30 lives have been saved over the past two years thanks to money raised at racecourse’s traditional curtain-raiser to The Cheltenham Festival.

More money will be added to that fund when it hosts this year’s Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance Countryside Day on Sunday, Mother’s Day, just two days ahead of the nation’s biggest festival of jump racing.

This is the third year that the event has been held in support of the Air Ambulance Service, with around £50,000 raised so far.

The total has been boosted by the Jockey Club Challenge Charity Race which is held during Warwick’s May Racing Carnival.

This year it will again feature a host of attractions for families to enjoy as well as a lunch and Cheltenham Festival Preview in the Paddock Pavilion, with this year’s panel featuring Grand National-winning jockey Jason Maguire and leading trainers Dan Skelton and sports broadcaster Rupert Bell.

Other entertainment on the day will include duck herding demonstrations, magicians, falconry, stilt walkers, pony rides and face painting, alongside the top racing action on the track.

Gates open at 12.20pm, with the first of seven races at 2.20pm and the last at 5.30pm. Tickets for the Air Ambulance Service Cheltenham Preview cost £80 per person and include the preview panel, private marquee, drinks reception, lunch and a tipster session.

E-mail Jo.Payne@theairambulanceservice.org.uk or call 07825 840150 for tickets.

A Grand National Preview evening will be held at Stratford-upon-Avon Racecourse on Friday, 6th April in memory of former Times sports writer Alan Lee.

CLICK HERE for tickets.

Lily Witherford, events executive at Warwick Racecourse, with Captain Dave Usher and Dr Laura Owen from the Air Ambulance Service.