Work stops on major racing development near Middleham

The gates at the Manor House Stud yard have been locked.

Work to redevelop a famous Middleham racing stables yard has come to a stop following an investigation into financial irregularities.

Contractors working on the overhaul of the Manor House Farm yard have left the site and the gate has been locked with a chain and padlock.

It is understood contractors have also removed their tools and equipment from the site.

It comes after an investigation was launched by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) into Vertem Asset Management, a company founded by yard owner John Dance.

The FCA said earlier this month that a 48-year-old man, who has not been named, was arrested by Northumbria Police after “serious regulatory and operational issues” came to light at WealthTek, a trading name for Vertem.

Administrators have been appointed to run the firm following the launch of the investigation.

The redevelopment of the stables was approved by councillors last year after they were told the scheme would create dozens of new jobs and be a  major boost for sport in the region.

The plans were for the farmhouse, agricultural buildings and stables to be demolished and replaced with buildings for racehorse training, hospitality and housing for some of the yard’s 35 new employees.

Work has stopped at the Manor House Farm scheme.

The farm, which was previously owned by classic-winning breeder Lenore ‘Lennie’ Peacock, who died in 2019 aged 97, would also feature an indoor riding school and gallops away from the nearby public ones used by other Middleham yards.

The yard was where the last northern-trained Derby winner, Dante, was born and raised.

The scheme was approved after it was announced Sir Michael Stoute’s assistant James Horton would become the yard’s private trainer.