The suspension of racing, which is due to finish at the end of April, is to be extended after a decision today by the Board of the British Horseracing Authority. Racing stopped on March 18th before the government introduced the current lockdown measures to protect essential emergency services and the health and safety of the public. The government has indicated publicly that it will announce tomorrow that the lockdown restrictions will continue.
The BHA has not set a new date for ending the suspension but plans are in place so that the sport is ready to resume as soon as is possible and appropriate in consultation with government.
The BHA has been working with trainers, racecourses and other participants to develop a phased plan for resumption which will allow the sport to transition back to its normal fixture list later in the year. We remain in constant contact with government and are ready to respond quickly.
Our plans continue to allow for a resumption in May, if that is possible. We assume it would be behind closed doors only, at a point when the safety of participants can be assured and the pressure on the health service allows. Tough biosecurity measures would be in place to keep any risks to a minimum.
Because of the very strong likelihood that restrictions on mass gatherings will continue, the BHA has decided that racing with crowds will not be possible until June at the earliest. When there is greater clarity about the duration for which restrictions on crowds will apply, the BHA will communicate this to the sport, to customers and to fans.
The BHA’s Chief Executive, Nick Rust, said:
“We stopped racing in March to protect the health and safety of the public and to limit demands on the NHS. It’s right to continue this suspension until the pressure on the NHS allows for a resumption and we can assure the safety of those taking part.
“We are in touch with government as part of our development of a responsible, coordinated plan for the return of sport when it’s appropriate to do so.
“We’ll continue to develop a range of options drawing on the expertise of our participants and racecourses. But for now, we are all focused on supporting the national effort, maintaining social distancing restrictions and taking care of our people and our horses.”