Coronavirus: Horse racing behind closed doors in Britain until end of March

  • Coronavirus: Horse racing behind closed doors in Britain until end of March

Coronavirus: Horse racing behind closed doors in Britain until end of March

The plan was agreed by the BHA, the Racecourse Association and the Horsemen's Group and from now, any racing fixtures set to take place in England, Wales or Scotland, initially until the end of March, will still take place.

Over the weekend, Arena Racing Company (ARC) chief executive Martin Cruddace called for additional aid to be offered to the racing industry to support some fixtures that would otherwise be "financially unviable" to go ahead without income from paying spectators.

Strict procedures will be followed to minimize the health risks to jockeys, coaches, racetrack staff, stable grooms and officials.

Another meeting later in the month - on 21 March - is also planned to be held behind closed doors.

"We are aware of the decisions taken by a number of sports today to suspend fixtures in advance of any government decision coming into effect.Racing's leaders are monitoring the situation daily and are now considering a range of options in this rapidly developing situation".

The BHA said in a statement: "With race meetings due to happen every day, the intention is to agree a programme that is sustainable in the light of possible staff absences, including in critical roles, which protects industry staff and supports the wider effort to free up critical public services".

BHA chief executive Nick Rust, commenting on the proposals, said: "Racing has worked hard to look after our customers and our staff by following the government's guidance and taking proportionate action".

"We acknowledge that the decision will also impact on local businesses, especially hotels and restaurants, who are struggling at this time". We also have a range of measures in place designed in response to the government's guidance on public health and we will continue to update these as appropriate.

The Grand National race, scheduled for April 4, is the main event during the annual three-day Grand National festival in Aintree.

This would prove a real test for authorities as it usually attracts a sell-out crowd of 70,000 on the day itself and a year ago the first two days drew over 70,000 people. "Our concern is simply the welfare and husbandry of the horses, resources in particular as they need exercise of course, like all domestic animals".