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Eight teams jockeying for position in Ascot revamp

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Ascot Racecourse is set to make one of the biggest decisions in its history later this week when it chooses between eight of the best 'runners and riders'to give the ground a thorough multimillion-pound redesign.

The famous old Berkshire course has shortlisted eight practices from an initial 25 - split between those with a track record in sports arena and racecourse design; the 'big boys'; and 'emerging practices'.The winner will take forward a fundamental redevelopment, including two new grandstands, in a bid to make it 'the best racecourse in the world'.

Arup Sports, David Morley Architects, HOK, Foster and Partners, SOM, Wilkinson Eyre Architects, John McAslan and Partners and Alsop and Stormer have all presented their approaches to the project backers.

Ascot chief executive Douglas Erskine-Crum said he was set to decide on a winner later this week after the AJ went to press.

The job involves first moving the course's 'Straight Mile' track 80m to the north.Course officials estimate this will cost £3.4 million.The venture will allow for better circulation around the course and provide additional room for the usual attendance of about 80,000 racegoers on racedays. In about 2004, assuming planning permission is granted on schedule, construction should start on the new grandstands to replace the current 60,000-capacity facilities, which are 40 years old.

Erskine-Crum said the redevelopment project would cost 'tens of millions of pounds'.

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