Racing industry leaders have confirmed a plan to continue racing behind closed doors from tomorrow (17th March).
Any fixtures that take place in England, Wales and Scotland, initially until the end of March, will take place without spectators and with restrictions on the number of attendees.
The race meetings at Taunton and Wetherby on Tuesday will be the first in England to take place behind closed doors, following the approach taken at Kelso this afternoon. Customers are being asked to contact the individual racecourses for further details.
The intention is for scheduled race meetings to take place wherever possible. However, the situation is very fluid at present and decisions may have to be made to cancel meetings. Every effort will be made to notify customers and the betting industry at the earliest opportunity.
With race meetings due to happen every day, the aim is to agree a programme that is sustainable, in the light of possible staff absences, including in critical roles, in order to protect industry staff and support the wider effort to free up critical public services.
The plan was agreed today by the sport’s tripartite leadership, including the Racecourse Association (RCA), The Horsemen’s Group and the governing body, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).
The BHA is notifying the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport of the plan agreed today. Racing has continued to observe the government’s request for a proportionate response that takes into account public health and the impact on jobs and businesses.
The Chief Executive of the BHA, Nick Rust, said: “Racecourses and racing yards are embedded in their local communities and we are acutely aware of our responsibilities to protect public health.
“The restrictions we are putting in place to close racing to spectators and limit attendees will reduce demand on public services. 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.
“We acknowledge that today’s decision will also impact on local businesses, especially hotels and restaurants, who are struggling at this time. We are following the government’s advice to strike a balance between protecting public health and maintaining business activity and will continue to do so. We thank our customers and staff for their support.”
Racing participants will be given further information later today and are asked to check the Racing Administration system where updates will be provided. The media will be notified of the arrangements for their attendance.
Musselburgh Will Race Behind Closed Doors Through March
Musselburgh Racecourse has confirmed its meetings on Friday (20th March) and Tuesday 31st March will be held behind closed doors.
This week’s Racing Post Go North race day will be open only to racing connections and will be in line with the Scottish Government recommendation that no events of more than 500 people should be held in light of the COVID19 outbreak.
Those attending will be asked to sign a self-declaration form that they do not have a temperature or symptoms associated with Coronavirus. Anyone who has pre-booked tickets for either March race day will receive a full refund.
Musselburgh Racecourse general manager, Bill Farnsworth, said: “Behind closed doors racing will comply with the guidelines set out by the Scottish Government and a meeting of less than 500 people, which includes participants, connections and staff, will not add any additional stress to emergency services.
“The racing industry, like many other sectors, is facing unprecedented challenges and is fighting for its future. We are keen to do whatever we can to support jobs and to mitigate loss of income and holding meetings behind closed doors seems a sensible approach.
Musselburgh will review how racing may proceed for its popular Betway Easter Saturday Race Day (11th April) as the situation develops and will continue to follow all Government and NHS advice on best practice on containing the virus.
Regular updates on the racecourse website and social media channels, will advise racegoers, owners and trainers on any material changes to scheduled race meetings.