GBI RACING

BHA chief Nick Rust officially opens new grandstand at Wetherby

The redevelopment of Wetherby's grandstand

British Horseracing Authority chief executive Nick Rust paid tribute to course officials after opening the Millennium West grandstand at Wetherby.

The attractive building replaces the previous grandstand, which was demolished in July 2016, and adjoins the existing Millennium Stand at the West Yorkshire circuit.

Rust was joined by racecourse chairman John Sanderson in the 1891 Bar - which is the third and top-most level of the stand and celebrates the year steeplechasing first took place at the track - to open the £3.5million stand prior to the first National Hunt fixture of the season on Wednesday.

Rust said: "I feel very honoured, humbled and privileged to open the stand officially today.My grandfather first brought me racing to this racecourse.I can remember coming here in the early 1980s and watching many Gold Cup winners run in big races here and seeing the top steeplechasing and hurdling legends.

"This has been a Grade One venue. John and his board and his family and everyone else involved have had a vision for the future."

The 1891 Bar will be fully open for Premier admission holders to access on the majority of racedays, while level two is The Riston Suite, which is open to owners and trainers and also houses the 'Winning Connections' lounge.

The ground floor houses the Henry Crossley Bar, which features a coffee lounge and a betting shop located within the bar.

Rust added: " Racecourses are emboldened to invest at the moment and British racing is on the up. There is a spirit of optimism, despite the fact there is much uncertainty in our wider economy.

"Wetherby's investment reflects something that was needed here, particularly around commercial opportunities, but of course, the facilities for owners and trainers to come racing.

"That commitment to those facilities in this stand, which is beautifully engineered on to the old one, is a sign that this racecourse and the leaders here recognise the needs for the future.

"I would like to wish all the people here who have put in so much hard work very well for the future and I hope it's a major success.

"I hope people come to see our equine stars and that the crowds grow."

Sanderson hopes the improved facilities will encourage more owners, trainers and better horses to the track.

He said: "It's a special day and the start of our new season, in which we've got 20 days racing including four Flat meetings at the end.

"The new stand is effectively an extension of the Millennium Stand, which was opened 17 years ago.

"We like it very much. We've had two dry runs on it and it's got some lovely facilities on the middle floor, a premium bar on the top floor and a public bar on the bottom floor.

"It's extremely special to see it finished. I'm delighted and I think it's fitted in really well.

"It's a lovely piece of work by the architects and the builders and I hope it will be well received by the public."

He added: " It's a good track. We had our problems after the A1 was widened, but it's a really good track now with bags of room.

"Now we've got this building project out of the way, we'll be concentrating on prize-money to try to improve the quality of the runners as we go on."

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