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Racing pundit John McCririck backs bid to bring equestrian centre to Ally Pally

19:24 09 September 2011

John McCririck wants his ashes scattered at the old finishing line of Alexandra Park race track.

John McCririck wants his ashes scattered at the old finishing line of Alexandra Park race track.

EMPICS Sport

Alexandra Park was once among the most popular horse racing tracks in England.

Alexandra Park was once among the most popular horse racing tracks in England.

And now the outspoken pundit John McCririck has thrown his support behind a campaign to bring equestrian sports back there.

Famed for its twisting turns and lively atmosphere, fans would flock to the North London course in the grounds of the Palace every Monday night where they would watch some of the greatest jockeys navigate their way round the saucepan shaped circuit.

John McCririck, who as a young sports writer could often be spotted in the stands, told the Ham&High that he was so enamoured with the track that he wants his ashes scattered at the old finishing line there.

“I always said that part of me died when Alexandra Park closed the race course in 1970. I’ve never recovered from it”, he said.

“Alexandra Park race course was a fantastic place to go every Monday evening.

“It had a terrific atmosphere, particularly for working class common people like me. We would eat the jellied eels and watch the races.

“Maybe a bit of nostalgia has crept in, but I loved that race course. Monday nights were always really special, for all of us. I definitely support the proposal to bring horses back to the Palace.”

A group called Riding in Haringey is hoping to bring an equestrian centre to the grounds of Alexandra Palace, behind the deer enclosure. It would include a riding track, jumping arena stands for visitors and stables for up to 40 horses and provide lessons and opportunities for pupils and disabled children to go riding.

If the campaign is successful, horse riding would return to the Palace for the first time since the race track shut in 1970.

Members of the influential Friends of Alexandra Park committee have met campaigners to discuss the proposals, and are canvassing residents for their opinion.

Lydia Rivlin, who is spearheading the campaign, said: “I think John’s response is marvellous. We are looking for powerful and important people to support this campaign.

“The recent riots have shown us that we have to broaden horizons for the young people of Haringey and give them feelings of self esteem. I don’t think there has ever been a stronger case for this.”

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