Doncaster Racecourse ason attacks

Arson: Mark Clayton, operations manager at Doncaster Racecourse, examines one of the National Hunt jumps damaged by fire.
Arson: Mark Clayton, operations manager at Doncaster Racecourse, examines one of the National Hunt jumps damaged by fire.
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SECURITY is being stepped up at Doncaster racecourse after a spate of arson attacks on the track’s fences.

Two more jumps were set alight on Sunday, bringing the total this year to four - and the repair to bill to around £20,000.

There have been an additional four more blazes on the Town Moor course since the start of this year.

Although the damage will not affect racing - there isn’t a National Hunt race meeting over fences until November - the incidents are causing concern to racecourse management.

It is thought the fires are being started by drunks on their way home from a night in Doncaster town centre, or by bored teenagers.

But track managers said they must not be dismissed as just ‘high jinx’.

“We are taking this very seriously and are stepping up security,” said racecourse managing director Mark Spincer.

Doncaster fire crews based in Leicester Avenue do not have far to go to get to the track but, because the fences are mostly made of brushwood, they burn quickly.

The first blaze over the weekend broke out at 12.30am on Sunday and was put down as a deliberately-started fire.

Another fire crew was called back to the racecourse on Sunday afternoon at around 2.40pm when another jump was found to be burning.

Each one of the damaged fences at Town Moor costs £5,000 to rebuild.

Most of the other arson attacks have been taking place in the late evening.

The two other fence fires were in April and June, and Doncaster fire crews have also been called to put out burning refuse, tree and bushes in April and June.

Mr Spincer said: “There were a couple of incidents of vandalism at the Racecourse over the weekend.

“These caused only very minor damage to limited areas of the jumps track. There will be no impact at all on forthcoming race fixtures.

“Although the perpetrators might consider this to be ‘Saturday night high jinx’, we are taking this very seriously and are stepping up security.

“The message is that the people doing this will be caught, and we appeal to members of the public to report anything they know about these incidents either to us or to the police.”

A fire service spokesman said: “Deliberate fires make up three quarters of all the fires we go to, potentially diverting our resources away from life-threatening emergencies.

“So we’d encourage anyone with information about people starting fires in their area to report them anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

A separate fire on a housing estate near the racecourse may also be linked to the incidents.

A Citroen Berlingo parked in The Avenue, near Cantley Bridge, was damaged when a hedge caught fire at 11.15pm on Sunday. The precise cause of the fire has not been established and is still under investigation.