There will be no horse racing at the ‘Hipódromo Costa del Sol’ racecourse in Mijas this winter due to the facility’s ongoing economic difficulties, it has been confirmed.
The scheduled races on 3rd, 10th and 17th February will now take place at Madrid’s La Zarzuela course, whilst the race day planned for 28th February, the day of the Mijas Cup, has been cancelled, according to sources from the State Lottery and Betting Agency (LAE), the body responsible for race planning throughout Spain.
The announcement follows a meeting in Madrid last week between the municipal company that runs the ‘Hipódromo’, Recursos Turísticos Mijas, and the LAE to discuss 2013’s racing schedule.
At that meeting, the LAE offered just six summer meetings to Mijas and a further limited number in winter and September, a plan the municipal firm disagreed with, due to its destabilising the “economic rhythm” of the facility, and consequently has said it has had to scrap its February schedule.
According to the Mijas representative, Lourdes Burgos, the move not to award more ‘State races’ to the ‘Hipódromo Costa del Sol’ might result in up to seven people losing their jobs.
In a statement she said: “We cannot keep on losing more than a million euros a year in maintaining races. We will look for other avenues and implement alternative activities, in order to generate employment and to boost the Mijas economy, so that the racecourse doesn’t only have to live off its income from horseracing.”
However, Burgos stressed that the ‘Hipódromo’ will continue “offering services to lovers of this sport” throughout the year, with the course being maintained by the staff, and added that “despite alarmist declarations by some people, under no circumstances is the racecourse going to close.”
Speaking to SUR in English on the issue of Spain’s horse racing schedule in November last year, Mario Bravo, the Mijas Councillor for Taxes, Foreign Residents and the Racecourse, said: “La Zarzuela racecourse [due to delegation from the LAE] decides the dates of all of Spain’s horse races and the distribution across the four racecourses across the country isn’t fair.” He added that the Madrid facility had scheduled 40 races for itself in 2013 and only slated 15 for the ‘Hipódromo Costa del Sol.’
Since the Mijas racecourse was inaugurated and held its first race on 19th June 1999, it has been a popular attraction with local foreign residents as well as tourists.
Amongst the regular race-goers is Dublin-born Fuengirola resident Joe Whittaker, who is saddened by the news that there will be no winter racing in Mijas this year. “As a lover of the ‘horses’ since I was a lad, it’s a real shame that the race programme for February has been cut. However, I’m not surprised by the announcement – in fact, many people saw it coming as the racecourse has been, many people believe, under-used and under-funded by the racing authorities,”_he says.
“Hopefully, next year the situation might improve. It’s a fine racecourse, it’s great to have on our doorstep, and could and should be a money-spinning attraction”.