British Racing’s pandemic response: Operational Plan weekly update, April 3rd

03 Apr 2020 BHA Features

On Monday the industry group coordinating the sport’s response to the coronavirus published an operational plan setting out the work currently underway.

The purpose of the plan is to protect the health of British racing’s people, horses and businesses during the pandemic and plan for the earliest possible resumption of racing and a strong recovery.

It has today issued an update on that work and will aim to do so each week on a Friday in order to keep participants, stakeholders and the wider racing industry and public up to date.

Five key workstreams were outlined in the plan released on Monday:

  • Finance
  • People
  • Equine Health & Welfare
  • Resumption
  • Recovery
Updates on each of these areas are below.


A submission was put into government this week to detail the economic impact on racing of the suspension and lockdown and to seek additional help. Key government departments as well as Ten Downing Street have seen the report. We will continue to liaise closely with them to discuss what external support is available to the industry.

In addition to this, racing’s stakeholders are working collaboratively to put together proposals to access funds held by the Horserace Betting Levy Board, the Racing Foundation and other funding bodies. Representative groups have drawn up a range of ideas and are agreeing the most urgent priorities. Meetings have been held with the two main funding bodies.

The BHA were on a call with the Sports Minister on Thursday afternoon and used the occasion to highlight some of the issues affecting racing.


Racing Welfare are leading on the immediate support needs for those who work in the racing industry, including introducing a streamlined application process for the provision of Covid-19 hardship grants. The grants are for anyone working in the British horseracing and breeding industry and are designed to help those in need of immediate financial assistance due to the outbreak.

In the longer term, sufficient support for those working in the racing and breeding industries forms a significant part of both the submission for external help from the government and the case for support from racing’s own funding sources.

Equine health & welfare

The BHA, National Trainers Federation, Racehorse Owners Association, Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, Retraining of Racehorses, World Horse Welfare and other industry experts met on Wednesday to discuss the next steps towards putting a financial safety net in place to protect thoroughbreds during the current pandemic, should it be needed.

They are assessing what kind of risks there are the longer the current situation goes on and how trainers and breeders can be best supported, as well as addressing practical issues such as relaxing the vaccination protocols for Equine Influenza and working to increase the ease and speed with which thoroughbreds can be accurately traced.


A phased return to Flat racing at the earliest possible stage occupies a considerable amount of the work being done by the industry’s leaders. Led by Brant Dunshea, there have been positive and creative contributions from all parts of the industry as to what the return might look like. The group also made the decision to stop Jump racing until at least 1 July following an initial proposal from the NTF.

There is a blueprint for racing behind closed doors from the meetings held before the suspension. That is being developed to take account of the subsequent lockdown and the existing government restrictions.


The focus of the industry group is with the current situation, ensuring support for racings people and readying the sport for a phased return at the earliest possible stage. The longer-term recovery of the industry will be addressed as appropriate.