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New racecourse boss has lot on his Plate; STEAMING David Yates gets it off his chest.

ENJOY the Pitmen's Derby at Newcastle today -- because it will never be the same again.

This afternoon, the Northumberland Plate is being run on turf for the final time -- from 2016 it will be (just) another all-weather handicap, albeit a rich one.

Newcastle's owners, Arena Racing Company, originally intended to preserve the Plate's turf status, despite plans to replace the Flat track's grass with Tapeta.

Their change of heart angered devotees of the race, particularly as the news was buried in the small print as ARC revealed the BHA had approved proposals to convert to an artificial surface.

Straight-mile handicaps run under floodlights are on the way -- not exactly guaranteed to sugar the pill -- but so, say ARC, is an investment of PS11million into Gosforth Park.

Given the challenges faced by the economy in the North East during the past few decades, the money is welcome and it may be that in years to come we view the loss of a turf Pitmen's Derby as a small price to pay.

ARC manages 15 racecourses in the UK, but that's not counting Hereford and Folkestone -- tracks it shut in 2012.

One of the 15, Yarmouth, is currently closed for work on the playing surface -- a revamp that will not be completed by the scheduled reopening date of July 23.

If you want to see how ARC's tracks fare in the prize-money table, you'll save time if you start at the bottom rather than the top.

All in all, incoming ARC chief executive Martin Cruddace, whose appointment was revealed on Thursday, has plenty to be getting on with.

There's nothing wrong with the company seeking to make a profit.

But ARC has to convince lovers of horseracing that it's concerned about more than the bottom line -- that it's also seeking to do what's best for the sport.

It's a fair bet that former Betfair top man Cruddace will receive handsome remuneration in his new post.

Looking at his 'in' tray, that''s probably just as well.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 27, 2015
Words:333
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