Top trainers have their say on coronavirus outbreak
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Horse racing remains under the cosh from the coronavirus crisis and the situation looks set to continue for many weeks to come.
Quite how long the pandemic will take to resolve is anyone’s guess, leaving the sport facing an uncertain future.
Racing across the world has been affected, but there has been a mixed reaction from people within the sport to the measures taken to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Lyons backs stance taken by Irish racing
Top Irish trainer Ger Lyons has backed his country’s racing authorities for allowing the action there to continue behind closed doors.
The new flat turf racing season started at Naas on Monday, allowing people in the industry to continue earning a living and bookmakers like BetEasy the opportunity to offer odds on the action.
Ireland’s decision to keep racing has flown in the face of what is happening elsewhere, with big races like the Grand National and the Dubai World Cup amongst the events that have been cancelled.
Lyons insists that Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has made a brave choice and has vowed to continue to run his horses until he is told otherwise.
“If people think it’s an own-goal going ahead at Thurles yesterday, Downpatrick today, or Naas tomorrow, they don’t understand the business,” he told the Irish Times.
“What we’re doing is 20 jockeys going racing to keep a livelihood. It’s horses running – there will be betting on that. You’re not saving the world, but you’re keeping going.
“We are under the guidance of the government that we will stop the minute we’re asked to stop and our facilities are needed. But we are told, at this moment in time, you keep going and I think 100 percent it is the right call.”
Top UK trainer blasts the BHA
Mark Johnston has hit out at the British Horseracing Authority’s decision to suspend racing due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The BHA has cancelled all racing under its jurisdiction until at least the end of April and many people have predicted that it will implement a longer postponement.
However, despite the majority of people in UK racing applauding the move, Johnston has surprisingly taken a stance that is very much at odds with the commonly held view.
“I wasn’t supportive of the decision,” he told Sky Sports Racing. “Who knows what’s going to come?
“There are many people worse off than us – look at the catering industry and so on, that have been closed down completely.
“That could happen to us at any time and we’ll just have to comply with whatever government tells us. I think it was a grave mistake to pre-empt that.
“To just stop overnight when we didn’t have to, and to see Irish racing and South African racing on our televisions instead, seems a terrible thing to have done. I really don’t think the decision should have been made so quickly.”