Kempton closure leaves owner of Kauto Star's stunned
Clive Smith, owner of legendary five-time King George VI Chase hero Kauto Star, admitted to being shocked and saddened by the news that Kempton could be closed for housing redevelopment.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Kauto Star - winner of the Down Royal Festival's big JNWine.com Champion Chase in 2008 and 2010 - was one of the most popular chasers of the modern era, and brought the house down at the Sunbury-on-Thames venue when he broke Desert Orchid's record by winning a fifth King George in 2011.
Kauto Star's ashes rest under a statue of the great horse, which was unveiled in the Kempton parade ring on Boxing Day in 2014.
Smith said: "It is quite a shock and it seems a great shame.
"There's a statue of Kauto Star there in the middle of the parade ring so I'm not sure what will happen to that. It might get moved to Sandown, I suppose.
"I never thought something like this would happen, but you just never know.
"I know housing is a big thing at the moment, as is green space and rising birth rates, and things like that.
"There is so much to consider."
The Jockey Club sent shockwaves across the sport yesterday when it announced Kempton could close by "2021 at the earliest" as part of a 10-year plan to invest at least £500million into British racing.
Kempton also has a floodlit all-weather Flat track, with the Jockey Club having announced proposals for a new racecourse to be built, potentially in Newmarket.
Should the proposed redevelopment go ahead, the King George will be moved to nearby Sandown, which will be a chief beneficiary of Jockey Club investments.
Mark Tompkins, chairman of the Newmarket Trainers Federation, hailed the proposed introduction of a new all-weather circuit on The Links as "the best thing that has happened to Newmarket in a long time".
He said: "It is going to take time but this is a marvellous initiative by the Jockey Club. I can't wait for it to happen.
"I don't know all the ins and outs regarding Kempton, but what Newmarket definitely needs is an all-weather track.
"It is not going to happen overnight. The Jockey Club are looking further ahead and this is not a short-term thing.
"They are looking 20 to 50 years ahead.
"This is the best thing that has happened to Newmarket in a long time. It is tremendous," he added.