UK racing remains hopeful for crowd pilot events

Racecourse officials are awaiting news from the UK government regarding which fixtures will be permitted to host pilot events as racing inks plans to bring back crowds.

A crowd of 5,000 were originally due to attend the final day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival last month, alongside four bookmakers. However, these plans were scuppered following an announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who called off the pilot event citing fears over the coronavirus infection rate.

The government has since given the green light for a small number of sporting events to welcome crowds, starting with the final of the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre this weekend.

Speaking to Sky Sports Racing, Paul Struthers, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, said: “I know Doncaster are up and ready to undertake a trial and have advanced plans, so fingers crossed for that.

“It’s hugely important because across the entire economy you need to get people back. In racing we have really stringent protocols. Racing is an outside sport and there is lots of outdoor space available.

“Please God we can get people back and back safely because it’s a long road ahead for so many different industries but ours in particular if we can’t.”

Racing leaders hope that if the pilot events are safe, then further competition events will be reopened with social distancing measures in place from 1 October.

Doncaster Racecourse has been earmarked as one of the tracks which could host a pilot event, with the four-day St Leger Festival – commencing on September 9 and ending on September 12 – suggested as a possibility.

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