National Hunt racing is to return to Windsor, the venue's owner Arena Racing Company announced on Monday. The track staged jump racing until 1998 but also stepped in to host a number of fixtures when Ascot was being redeveloped in 2005 and 2006.
It is hoped the first meetings will take place during the 2024-25 season with December 15, 2024 earmarked for the first action.
“We have long held a desire to bring jump racing back to Royal Windsor racecourse, and we are really pleased to confirm this plan well ahead of the planned first fixture in December 2024,” said Mark Spincer, managing director of ARC's racing division.
“Whilst the racecourse hasn't hosted regularly scheduled jumps fixtures since 1998, we believe that the plans that we have put together with the British Horseracing Authority will mean that the small number of fixtures that we would like to host will sit well alongside the long established, popular summer Flat programme.
“A significant amount of work has gone into considering the optimal layout for jump racing at Royal Windsor, which will see the course configured differently to how it was previously, but we believe that it is an excellent proposal to offer jump racing fans the chance to come back to Royal Windsor, whilst not impacting on the Flat programme, which is an important consideration.
“The proximity to the River Thames gives the track excellent drainage, and our records show that the racecourse very rarely ran jumps fixtures on heavy ground, with the majority of abandonments coming due to frost.
“Happily, turf management techniques have developed significantly since that time, so we are confident of providing excellent jumping ground for the fixtures that we would like to host in 2024 and 2025 and beyond.”
Windsor will not see an increase in its number of net fixtures, however, with the new jump cards switched from traditional Flat meetings in April and October.
To facilitate the return of National Hunt racing, the track will be reconfigured to utilise previous dormant areas of the site, with the jumps course a continuous left-handed circuit rather than the current figure of eight.