HORSERACING followers in the UK could be about to get a taste of their favourite sport on home soil again, after being starved of action for a month due to the coronavirus outbreak. Meetings are set take place behind closed doors at the Arena Racing Company's tracks at Newcastle and Lingfield next Saturday (May 16), subject to the of the relevant governing bodies. Health Secretary Matt Hancock recent raised hopes of an imminent resumption racing recently, when he said: "I'm absolutely open to football returning and horseracing too, and I know the Premier League and racing authorities are working on how this might be doable in a safe way, but that safety has to be paramount." Hancock is one of a few members of Parliament with an in-depth knowledge of racing, having ridden the winner of a charity race at Newmarket in 2012, where he steered home the John Gosden-trained Dick Doughtywylie. There has been no horseracing in Britain since March 17, when Staffordshire Moorlands trainer Jennie Candlish sent out two winners at the Kelso jumps meeting. National Hunt racing has been put on hold until July 1.
One of the most popular meetings at the Uttoxeter course is Ladies Day (pictured), which is scheduled to place this year on Friday, July 24. Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer of the British Horse Racing Authority (BHA), said: “The decision to lose jump racing until July was not one which was taken lightly and we are very conscious of the impact this will have on many across our sport. “We are working closely with the horsemen, racecourses and Levy Board to ensure the sport is ready for a resumption of racing at the earliest possible opportunity. Our planning is progressing well, and it is important that we keep everybody informed as it develops to help them with their own decision-making. “The plan involves a phased return of racing, as well as increasing the jump programme in late summer and early autumn. With that in mind, we wanted to ensure that those who own or train jumps horses have a clear picture of how we are planning to proceed in the coming months. “Additionally, we were keen to minimise the risk of any unnecessary expenditure by confirming that there will be no jump racing before July 1. This will allow horses to have breaks away from training yards if owners wish them to.” Trainer Emma Lavelle, president of the National Trainers Federation (NTF), said: “Having canvassed the opinion of jump trainers, we felt a break in Jump racing until July 1 would bring clarity for owners, trainers and staff, and allow the immediate focus to be on Flat Racing which is already losing a major part of its core season. “There was a willingness to engage in constructive conversation amongst the BHA and other stake holders and flexibility to produce a programme that will give plenty of opportunities to the summer jump population later in the year”.