British horseracing bosses welcome the return of the sport

BRITISH horseracing returned with a 10-race card behind closed doors on the all-weather flat at Newcastle yesterday (June 1).

There are two more meetings today, at Newcastle and Kempton, but there is no return date set yet for jumps racing.

Staffordshire's own National Hunt course, at Uttoxeter, hasn't hosted a meeting since the Midlands Grand National, on March 14, because of lockdown measures introduced to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Jumps racing isn't set to return until July at the earliest, with Uttoxeter scheduled to host an afternoon meeting on the 15th.

British horseracing bosses have welcomed the government’s decision to allow to resume, as it will help save livelihoods and businesses in the £4 billion industry.

Racing in this country was suspended from March 18, to allow emergency and NHS workers to focus on COVID-19 and support the national effort.

Since then, Britain’s 59 racecourses have had no income from racing.

Trainers have relied on the continuing support of owners to fund the staff who look after the welfare of more than 12,000 racehorses currently in training.

The future of an industry employing around 20,000 people directly, mostly in rural Britain, has been put in jeopardy with meetings restricted to behind closed doors until further notice.

Over the past few weeks, the BHA’s Chief Medical Adviser, Dr Jerry Hill, has worked with officials from Public Health England, and with medical officers from other major sports, to develop appropriate guidelines for the sport's return.

Racing’s protocols have been aligned with the government’s Stage Three guidance for the return of elite sports behind closed doors.

A BHA spokesman said: "Those attending [race meetings] must complete a three-stage screening process, including medical checks before departure and on arrival.

"Social distancing officials will be in place to ensure that the new procedures developed are strictly adhered to. No spectators will be allowed at this stage".

Dr Hill and regulatory colleagues have carried out an injury risk analysis to reduce the possibility that medical assistance will be needed and to limit the impact on the NHS.

A Uttoxeter racecourse spokesperson said: "Whilst we are glad to say that British Racing is due to resume shortly, this is strictly on a behind closed doors basis, with a new fixture list.

"As such, we will not be able to welcome any spectators on site as planned during any fixtures that had been scheduled throughout June, July and August".

Anyone who has booked tickets for these months is eligible to transfer their booking to any future meeting at Uttoxeter.

Alternatively, if they would like a refund, they can email with their booking reference and details.


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