When we think of horse racing, we generally think of grassy landscapes in leafy UK and Irish towns, or the showy dirt tracks over in America.
Well, thanks to one ambitious entrepreneur, racing could be about to get something of a facelift.
Peter Phillips, who just happens to be Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson, has outlined details about the City Racing Project, which would bring the sport onto the street’s of some of the world’s most famous cities.
And yes, he does have the support of his nearest and dearest….
What is the City Racing Project?
When he’s not drafting plans to eliminate his rivals – he is fourteenth in line to the throne after all, Phillips has been working on the City Racing Project with one aim: to take horse racing out of the suburbs and bring it to the streets of the some of the most iconic cities on the planet.
Could we see Winx winning on the streets of London? Enable hurtling past the Eiffel Tower? Harry Angel and Battaash battling it out on Fifth Avenue?
It all seems rather fanciful but the green light has been given to the project, and now the how, when and where questions are slowly being answered.
The plan is to hold six-race meetings over a special five-furlong track designed specifically for the event, with London, Paris, New York, Macau and Melbourne all on the wish-list as hosts.
“We are now in the process of talking to a number of cities about hosting races later in 2019 and 2020,” Phillips has said.
“It has to be a full day out, with entertainment outside of the track and post-meeting entertainment. It will be up to the local provider to decide what they want to put on.”
Phillips owns his own sports production company, SEL UK, and they have already secured a link-up with the Jockey Club, Andrews Bowen – who will manufacture the race surface, and a variety of investment firms.
Will it Be Safe?
A similar equestrian event was held at the Horse Guards Parade, where a ‘pop up’ synthetic surface was used to keep the horses and their riders safe.
The plan is for the same surface to be laid on the street, with a thick layer of sand that would ultimately be able to withstand the weight of a field of thoroughbreds running at top speed.
A trial event, held on roads on Aintree racecourse, proved to be a success, with feedback from jockeys and trainers overwhelmingly positive.
“Equine safety is paramount. We have a veterinary advisory board and a gold-standard welfare framework,” Phillips commented.
“There will be a pedestrian crowd barrier, two or three metres back from the edge of the track and people lined four or five deep, getting up close to these horses running at 30mph. That’s going to create a unique energy and buzz.”
And the Queen is Bang Up for It, Right?
As we know, Queen Elizabeth – and many of her ancestors – are keen fans of horse racing, and she has an excellent record as an owner and breeder too.
It seems she has given her approval to Phillips’ project, although the heir-to-the-throne remains rather tight-lipped as to the nature of their discussions.
“That is one of those conversations where I can’t divulge a huge amount, although she is following it with interest,” he confirmed.
“Every time I see her, she always asks about how it’s going and what the latest updates are.”