The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has confirmed that the suspension of racing will be extended, with a date for resumption yet to be decided.
Racing was initially suspended on March 18 following the government’s decision to introduce the current lockdown measures which seek to protect essential emergency services and the health and safety of the public.
But while a new date for ending the suspension has not yet been confirmed, ‘plans are in place’ for the sport to resume ‘as soon as is possible and appropriate in consultation with the government’.
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 the 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.”
According to the statement released by the BHA, discussions with trainers, racecourses and other participants has helped develop a ‘phased plan for resumption’ which is hoped will allow the sport ‘to transition back to its normal fixture list later in the year’.
The statement added: “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.”