LEADING racehorse trainer Donald McCain and racecourse bosses believe Chester can stage jumps racing after running trial races.
Ten horses took to the track yesterday for two trial races with four hurdles set up around the one-mile long circuit.
McCain and Chester Race Company chief executive Richard Thomas were pleased with the trials despite seeing Grand National winning jockey Jason Maguire crash
to the ground when his horse fell.
Maguire’s horse slipped on landing after jumping the final hurdle and initially appeared to be seriously hurt before getting to its feet and being led away.
Cholmondeley trainer McCain said the horse was absolutely fine and he was “convinced” hurdle racing would work at Chester.
He said: “I think Chester needs a pat on the back for thinking about it.
“I am more than happy to bring my best horses here.”
Observers from governing body the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) watched the trials and Chester would have to apply to the BHA for permission to stage hurdle races.
Mr Thomas said he would be looking into the options available to the course.
It was “not impossible” hurdle racing could be staged in 2013 but any races would be included in existing fixtures.
He said: “The key is if we do it, we do it properly. We are not looking to have hurdle racing for a gimmick.
“We are not looking for extra fixtures, we really have enough. I think any more fixtures
would start to dilute the crowds.
“Flat racing is our number one priority and it always will be. That is what we do.”
Jockey Maguire said Chester compared well to jumps courses Cartmel and Fakenham but would not be suitable for hurdle racing on fast ground.
He said: “The track rode well. We would not want to be on rattling ground though.”
There are many dual-purpose racecourses in the UK with a jumps course and a flat course including Haydock, Warwick and Doncaster.
Mr Thomas said setting up the hurdles was “pretty simple” and he was confident staging flat and jump racing at the same meeting would work at Chester.
See full story in the Chester Leader