A RACECOURSE has submitted plans that would allow it to offer the largest racing prize money in the North-East.

Redcar Racecourse, in east Cleveland, hopes the proposals will allow it to invest £3m in the track and the business.

Chief executive Neil Etherington said it would be "a major step forward in exploiting the potential of the site, securing the future of racing and enhancing one of the most important visitor attractions in the Tees Valley area."

A planning application was submitted this week to Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council involving the realignment of part of the course.

An outline application is also being sought to build about 100 apartments on three acres of land, a project that would raise an estimated £3m.

The news follows confirmation that Redcar -one of the few courses in the country with a straight mile -will stage the £100,000 William Hill Lincoln Handicap in March.

The scheme would allow the racecourse to boost the prize money for Redcar's totepool Two-Year-Old Trophy to £200,000 -making it the richest race in the North-East.

Mr Etherington said: "The money we hope to raise from the sale of the area of land, which will be released through realignment of the track, will go directly back into the business, whether in improving the course and facilities or increasing the prize money we can offer.

"It will mean, for example, that we can invest in developing the racecourse as a centre for a wide variety of uses, such as conferences and weddings, adding of course to the income which comes into the town from the 70,000 visitors a year we currently attract to our race meetings.

"We believe that these proposals are good news for the whole community of Redcar

"As well as enhancing what is without doubt the town's most high-profile asset, it will provide the opportunity to develop the kind of high quality apartment style housing which is in such demand nowadays."

The council's assistant director of regeneration services, Peter Ellis, said: "While we cannot comment on the application, we are pleased that the racecourse owners want to invest in the course."