British racing’s leaders will next week review the plans for racing to resume in the light of the government lockdown restrictions introduced in March.
Racing came to a halt on 18th March 18 when the BHA Board – after consultation with industry leaders – decided on a suspension until the end of April.
The government today indicated that there would be no imminent lifting of the lockdown measures put in place from 23rd March. The current restrictions include a ban on public gatherings of more than two people.
The COVID19 Racing Industry Group established a Resumption of Racing Group that has been working with horsemen, racecourses and others on a plan to resume racing behind closed doors as soon as that becomes possible.
The focus of the Resumption of Racing Group is on establishing clear, objective criteria to assist the industry in determining how, where and under what conditions a resumption may be accepted by government. The group continues to focus on a framework that will enable racing to be ready to resume on daily basis in a phased and controlled way as soon as possible. The initial phase of that plan will ensure opportunities exist for horses to race under strictly controlled conditions at locations which meet the criteria being established, and not until approved by the BHA Board and government.
The Chief Operating Officer of the BHA, Richard Wayman, said: “Everyone’s first duty at present is to the health and safety of the public, as the government has made clear. That will clearly be the most important consideration informing their view of when it’s safe for sport to resume. But we continue to keep them fully informed of the lockdown’s considerable economic impact on individuals and businesses within racing, and our responsibility for the long-term prosperity and sustainability of the sport.
“We have followed government guidance throughout this crisis. When they said it was still safe to continue mass gatherings, we continued. When they said the emergency services could no longer support mass gatherings, we stopped. Now it seems clear that – like so many other areas of leisure and business activity – sport will need the support and approval of government to resume, even if that is behind closed doors.
“The work that’s been done to develop a resumption plan is excellent and has demonstrated that racing would be ready to resume when that becomes possible. We are liaising with government as part of our development of a responsible, coordinated plan for the return of sport when we’re told it’s safe to do so.”
STATEMENT FROM ASCOT RACECOURSE
On 7th April Guy Henderson, Chief Executive at Ascot Racecourse released a public statement to say that: “For public health and safety reasons we have reached the difficult but unavoidable conclusion that Royal Ascot 2020 (Tuesday 16th–Saturday 20th June) will not be able to take place as an event open to the public. This will of course be a great disappointment for everyone planning to attend.