British horseracing preparing to go behind closed doors this week

Racing industry leaders are preparing to hold race meetings without spectators and to ensure that the competitors and participants attending only do so under strict conditions.

The sport’s tripartite leadership, including racecourses, participants and the governing body, the British Horseracing Authority, will tomorrow discuss an approach recommended by the industry’s COVID 19 group. It is likely to mean that racing moves behind closed doors later in the week, initially until the end of March. Racing’s fixture list will also be considered.

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.

Monday’s race meeting at Kelso is already being run behind closed doors following guidance from the Scottish government. No spectators will be present and strict procedures will be observed to minimise the health risks for staff who do attend, including jockeys, trainers, racecourse staff, stable grooms and officials. The fixture will continue to be televised.

The BHA has been closely following official guidance on public health.  Details of contingency plans have been shared with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. 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:

“Racing has worked hard to look after our customers and our staff by following the government’s guidance and taking proportionate action.

“We will agree plans to limit attendance to participants and staff only at race meetings from this week and put in place the contingency plans developed by the industry.”

The UK government has also been briefed on the issues involved in staging the Randox Health Grand National. A decision will be announced as soon as possible.