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Horse racing could soon be staged on Norfolk beach

PUBLISHED: 06:55 12 December 2019 | UPDATED: 08:13 12 December 2019

Fakenham Racecourse clerk David Hunter is keen to stage horse racing on a Norfolk beach, replicating the annual event at Laytown in Ireland. Picture: PA Images/Archant

Fakenham Racecourse clerk David Hunter is keen to stage horse racing on a Norfolk beach, replicating the annual event at Laytown in Ireland. Picture: PA Images/Archant

PA Archive/PA Images/Ian Burt

Race-goers could soon be flocking to the Norfolk coast if plans for a brand new beach racing event come to fruition.

CEO and clerk of Fakenham Racecourse David Hunter wants to stage racing on a Norfolk beach. Picture: ArchantCEO and clerk of Fakenham Racecourse David Hunter wants to stage racing on a Norfolk beach. Picture: Archant

Inspired by the famous venue 
at Laytown in Ireland, David Hunter - chief executive and clerk at Fakenham Racecourse - is plotting a similar extravaganza in north Norfolk.

Mr Hunter believes some of the county's expansive, sandy beaches would make a prime location for a pioneering event, bringing in a new audience and boosting the area's racing reputation.

While keen to emphasise the project is in its infancy, there is excitement from the Fakenham boss about potentially reaching the end goal.

"This is something I've had in the back of my head for years," said Mr Hunter.

The annual horse racing spectacle on Laytown beach, Ireland, attracts thousands of people every year. Picture: PA ImagesThe annual horse racing spectacle on Laytown beach, Ireland, attracts thousands of people every year. Picture: PA Images

"I went to Laytown in September and had a fantastic time. Going there has rekindled my interest in seeing whether there are any opportunities to do it ourselves.

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"Newmarket is pretty close by and quite a lot of trainers from there know the area and use the beaches already.

"If I can find somewhere suitable, the appetite for it could be great. A huge number of people who come here in the summer and, if beach racing was on their doorstep, it might attract some new race-goers."

CEO and clerk of Fakenham Racecourse David Hunter wants to stage racing on a Norfolk beach. Picture: ArchantCEO and clerk of Fakenham Racecourse David Hunter wants to stage racing on a Norfolk beach. Picture: Archant

As the only beach event in the Irish racing calendar, Laytown offers one of the sport's most unique experiences.

Races have been held there for more than 150 years and, such is its popularity, around 5,000 spectators flock to County Meath for the annual festivities every September.

Starting a similar trend on the Norfolk coast would require extensive planning and clearance from various landowners, so Mr Hunter is not getting his hopes up just yet.

"There are a considerable number of hoops to jump through," he added. "Getting extra fixtures in the racing calendar is not a foregone conclusion, but also racing is always looking to see how it can appeal to a different market.

The annual horse racing spectacle on Laytown beach, Ireland, attracts thousands of people every year. Picture: PA ImagesThe annual horse racing spectacle on Laytown beach, Ireland, attracts thousands of people every year. Picture: PA Images

"We'd have to find an area 
of beach that is safe, stable and has consistent ground. All of these bits and pieces come into play.

"There's a long way to go and it may well be that it never gets going, but my plan now is to watch some other beach racing and see how things are done."

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