The future of the UK racecourse and greyhound track Towcester has been placed in doubt after the owners of the course revealed steps are being taken to place the business in administration with job losses already confirmed.
The Northamptonshire jumps track is due to stage three more fixtures this year, with the first card on October 10, while greyhound meetings are staged every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening, and also on Saturday mornings.
Administration is an insolvency procedure that protects your company against legal pressure from its creditors while an insolvency practitioner acts as administrator.
Entering into administration allows a company to protect itself against compulsory liquidation. During the administration period, a company can restructure under the leadership of an expert insolvency practitioner.
The racecourse's history dates back to 1876, and in 1928 the first Lord Hesketh formed the present company and established the track under National Hunt rules. It has remained in the ownership of the Fermor-Hesketh family.
In a personal statement to staff, racecourse chairman Lord Hesketh said: "Towcester has been my life for over 60 years. That would not have been possible without the unique contribution that each and every one of us has made.
"The very sad decision that the board of directors has made is, I believe, the surest way to find a solution that ensures a future for Towcester Racecourse.
"For the sadness this day brings, I shall always regret most that it was not we who were allowed to realise the enormous potential of this racecourse.
"I hope I shall have the honour of working with you all again and I give my heartfelt thanks to each of you."
The course famously played host to Sir Anthony McCoy registering his 4,000th jumps winner when steering Mountain Tunes to success in November 2013.
A statement released by Towcester Racecourse's Facebook page on Thursday read: "Towcester Racecourse Company Limited, proprietors of Towcester Racecourse, are currently experiencing trading difficulties and are in discussions with key stakeholders and professional advisers on the way forward. However, the directors have concluded that they have no alternative in the short term but to seek court protection and are now taking steps to place the company into administration.
"As a result, it is with regret that the greyhound meetings on this Friday, August 17, and over the weekend at Towcester Racecourse have been cancelled.
"Whilst inevitably there will be considerable interest from customers, supporters and suppliers, the directors ask that they be given time to focus on exploring other options for the business and they anticipate there will be a further update in the next few days.
"The directors remain hopeful that despite the current situation, given the significant history of horseracing and more recently greyhound racing at Towcester, there will be significant interest from potential acquirers.
"Due to the financial difficulties referred to above, the majority of employees will be laid off with immediate effect pending formal appointment of administrators. Members of the management team will be contacting full-time employees during the course of this morning to explain the current situation in more detail, but in the meantime all employees are requested not to attend the racecourse site today."
The greyhound stadium is a far more recent addition, opening in December 2014. For the last two years the track has staged the Greyhound Derby, the sport's most prestigious race, which was worth £175,000 to this year's winner, Dorotas Wildcat.