Down Royal Corporation of Horse Breeders, the organisation which runs Down Royal Race Course, will close operations at the Maze site at the end of this year.
The Corporation has raced on the site for over 300 years and under lease for the last 35 of those years. This lease concludes on 31st December 2018 and possession will return to the current Landlord.
The race course operated by the Down Royal Corporation of Horsebreeders secured Irish Race Course of the Year 2017 and became a successful not-for-profit operation in recent years. It will cease to operate as Down Royal Race Course on December 31 after which its lease expires.
The closure of Down Royal follows announcements by land owner, Dublin-based property developer Mike Roden, to take control of the site in January 2019.
Down Royal Corporation of Horse Breeders was led by chairman of Jim Nicholson and general manager Mike Todd, Down Royal who oversaw the investment of more than £5m in the facilities.
The Corporation would like to thank everyone who has made the racecourse the top class racing and social venue it undoubtedly is. The committee, groundstaff, management team, sponsors and contractors have all played a vital part in the delivery of world class race days for all the supporters of Northern Irish racing.
Jim Nicholson says his committee will now consider a number of sites which could accommodate a new race track and facilities to accommodate Down Royal’s 12 annual race meetings.
“We are facing new opportunities and there is every likelihood that Down Royal will find a new home,” says Mr Nicholson.
“Down Royal’s approach was always based on a not-for-profit approach to ensure the racing sector in Northern Ireland which employs between 2,000 and 2,500 people, benefited from raised standards and generous prize money. All profits have always been ploughed straight back into the sector. It is essential to the future of the sector that this contribution continues,” he says.
“I want to acknowledge the generosity of our sponsors many of whom have been quietly but significantly helping fund programmes such as youth work experience, apprenticeships and other essential schemes aimed at helping people out of unemployment.”
The Down Royal Festival of Racing celebrates its 20th anniversary on Friday, November 2, and Saturday, November 3. The last meeting operated by the Down Royal Corporation on the Maze site will be the popular Boxing Day meeting.