CHESTER Racecourse has joined the ranks of ROA Gold Standard courses, with a formal presentation to the racecourse executive.
The Cheshire course is the 14th to receive the prestigious accolade.
Chester's prize-money for 2007/08 is over £1.3 million, with an executive and sponsorship contribution of 39.3%. For 2008, Chester will be increasing its executive contribution to prize-money by £80,000, a 14% year-on-year rise.
In the Racing Post's statistical tables, the course is top of the Category B Flat courses for average prize-money per fixture.
Chester has produced a Horseman's Charter, setting out the full range of initiatives and enhanced facilities for owners, trainers and stable staff, which encompasses many of the aspects covered by the Gold Standard criteria.
The racecourse has this season opened a new owners' and trainers' facility, The Pavilion, situated next to the pre-parade ring. A complimentary three-course meal is provided for owners and trainers with runners at each of the 14 meetings during the 2008 season.
Assistance with transport is also offered for those arriving by rail and air. In excess of £100,000 is being spent on the racing surface, in the form of a high-specification drainage project, to help the course cope with dynamic weather patterns. The irrigation system will also be upgraded for the 2009 season.
Dena Arstall, Racehorse Owners’ Association council member and Gold Standard committee member, said: “Chester has implemented a number of exciting changes and are deserving winners of the Standard. Their new owners' pavilion, which serves a superb lunch, is worth a visit in itself and is excellently positioned for trainers and owners alike, with easy access to course, paddock and viewing areas.
“Owners have a variety of areas from which to watch their horses and Chester's management are flexible and accommodating in their badge allocation, even on Chester Cup Day.
“Chester is a must visit. It is a unique place to have a runner and full credit to everyone there in pushing the boat out and achieving Gold Standard.”
Richard Thomas, managing director and chief executive of Chester Racecourse, said: “We believe that the facilities and racing experience that we provide for owners and trainers is among the best in the country.
“Racing's professionals are a key stakeholder group for Chester Racecourse and the ROA Gold Standard Award is testament to the work that has been done. We will continue to invest heavily in prize-money to maintain and improve our racing product, as we do with all our facilities.”