Council approves multi-million pound redevelopment of historic Epsom yard

17th December 2018 Epsom

An important hurdle has been cleared in the plans to renovate Downs House, the yard from which the legendary Eclipse was trained in Epsom and which has been unused for several years.

Epsom and Ewell Borough Council have approved plans for a multi-million pound redevelopment of the historic training facility. The proposals have been brought forward by Mark Travers and Andrew Lynds of Eclipse Barn Racing, who bought the yard from the council in 2015.

Downs House is located on the Downs, adjacent to the back straight of the racecourse. The 18th century site was the yard from which Eclipse was trained to win his first race, run on Epsom Downs in 1769.

Eclipse Barn Racing has high hopes that Downs House will become a flagship yard for the training centre. Mark Travers, of Eclipse Barn Racing, said: “Epsom is underused in the terms of the facilities it’s got, so it’s a great opportunity to build a yard effectively from scratch.

“We’ve been working closely with The Jockey Club who hope to regenerate the area. We want to be the flagship yard in Epsom because it’s the flagship spot. We’ve decided to give ourselves the flexibility of having two trainers. In an ideal world you’d be able to fill your barns with big trainers, but here trainers tend to have around 30 horses.

“We want to provide a fantastic ownership experience for people who want to be involved and see their horses but perhaps can’t make the trip from London to Newmarket.”

The plans for Downs House include staff and trainer accommodation and extensive turn out paddocks for up to two trainers. They have been drawn up Richard McGonigal from architects RPS Design Group, who said: “We aspire to bring this yard back to life and make it the best training site in Epsom. Mark (Travers) has a lot of experience of racehorse training and is dedicated to bringing the site back to use.”

The site has some Listed buildings, including the Eclipse Barn, which needed to be considered in the plans. Due to the scale of the redevelopment and the fact the site is in the Green Belt, the proposals need to be formally approved by the secretary of state before work can get underway on the project.

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