Northern Ireland news

Future of horse racing at Down Royal appear in doubt

The future of racing at Down Royal was in doubt last night

THE future of horse racing at Down Royal appeared to be in doubt last night amid conflicting reports about its closure.

The organisation which runs the race course said yesterday it was to "close operations at the Maze site at the end of this year".

In a statement, Down Royal Corporation of Horse Breeders said the racecourse would shut after they were unable to agree a new lease with the landowner.

It said it would "cease to operate as Down Royal Race Course on December 31 after which its lease expires".

The organisation also said it would consider a "number of sites which could accommodate a new race track and facilities".

"There is every likelihood Down Royal will find a new home," it added.

But landowner Merrion Property Group later responded by saying it intended to continue horse racing at the venue when it would assume responsibility for staging racing at Down Royal from January 1.

It also said next year would see the "beginning of an exciting new era for Down Royal and to enhancing the experience of race goers and other stakeholders while contributing to the local and wider community".

"We will maintain contact with local stakeholders, including political representatives and Lisburn and Castlereagh Council as we develop our plans."

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