British Horseracing Authority Will Review Restart Plans
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has confirmed that a meeting will be held next week to discuss plans for the resumption of racing in the UK. Holding races behind closed doors is seen as a viable option as the industry tries to recover from the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week the Government indicated that there would be no immediate lifting of the lockdown measures which have been in force since the 23rd of March. Current rules mean gatherings of more than two people are banned so the BHA will be exploring ways of resuming racing.
The BHA’s Brant Dunshea, who is the leader of the Resumption of Racing Group, sent a letter to stakeholders in the sport, outlining the industry’s latest thinking. Dunshea urged critical players to be ready with a tentative date of the 1st of May mooted in the letter.
Any restarting of racing would require Government approval and the Resumption of Racing Group (RoRG) have been working with ministers to develop a road-map to enable this to happen. A statement given by the group said their focus was on establishing clear, objective criteria to assist the industry in determining how, where and under what conditions a resumption may be accepted by Government. The statement continues that “the group continues to focus on a framework that will enable racing to be ready to resume on a daily basis in a phased and controlled way as soon as possible”.
The statement added: “The initial phase of that plan will ensure opportunities exist for horses to race under strictly controlled conditions at locations which meet the criteria being established, and not until approved by the BHA board and Government.”
The chief operating officer of the BHA, Richard Wayman said that the priority as always would be the health and safety of the public and this consideration would inform their views on when it is safe for horse racing to resume. Wayman did, however, stress that he was advising the Government of the financial impact that social distancing was having on the industry. He said:
But we continue to keep them fully informed of the lockdown’s considerable economic impact on individuals and businesses within racing, and our responsibility for the long-term prosperity and sustainability of the sport.– Richard Wayman, BHA COO
Wayman added that the authority had followed Government guidance throughout the crisis. Allowing mass gatherings when permitted and ceasing activities when the coronavirus spread meant the emergency services could no longer support mass gatherings. He said that racing, like other areas of leisure and business activity, will need the support and approval of Government to resume, even if that is behind closed doors.