UK Jump Horseracing Off Until July at the Earliest Say BHA
The British Horseracing Association (BHA) has confirmed that jump racing in the UK is postponed until the beginning of July at the earliest. Responding to a request for clarity on timescales from the National Trainers Federation (NTF), the BHA said they are working on a phased plan for when racing returns.
The BHA has stated that they plan to introduce fixtures in August and September, usually months in which the sport takes a break, to try to offset some of the financial losses the industry has suffered as a result of the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
The association said that priority for these additional meetings would be given to courses able to accommodate racing in these months and those courses that have been hardest hit by the suspension of all racing in the UK.
BHA revealed that they are considering racing taking place without spectators if racing does commence, with the 1st of May date being considered. The BHA believes by running events behind closed doors that it will minimise the impact on emergency services and the NHS.
The BHA COO, Richard Wayman, said one of the priorities was to keep costs down for the owners and to allow plenty of rest time for the horses. Wayman added that the decision to postpone was not an easy one, saying;
The decision to lose jump racing until July was not one which was taken lightly and we are very conscious of the impact this will have on many across our sport.– Richard Wayman, BHA COO
The BHA last week announced they had furloughed 80% of their workforce, this is for an indefinite period but will last until at least July after the postponement confirmation.
Some racing action did take place at the weekend, albeit in a virtual form with Saturday’s Virtual Grand National. Usually staged as a fun form of entertainment before the real race is run, this year the race took centre stage due to the Grand National cancellation due to the coronavirus outbreak. UK bookmakers including bet365, GVC, Flutter, William Hill and Sky Bet accepted bets on the race (although limited to £10) with all profits being given to the NHS.
Five million people watched the race on TV, and the money raised totalled more than £2.6m. The race itself was full of surprises with a shock win for 18-1 shot Potters Corner. He beat Walk In The Mill and Any Second Now. Heavy favourite Tiger Roll, searching for a hat-trick of Grand National wins, finished a disappointing fourth. For long periods of the race, it appeared that we might experience the first female jockey to win the National. Rachael Blackmore was riding well on Burrows Saint before fading into a fifth-place finish.