BHA extends suspension of British racing

British racing will remain suspended while the country tackles the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
British racing will remain suspended while the country tackles the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

The suspension of British racing, which was due to finish at the end of April, has been extended indefinitely by the British Horse Racing Authority, as the country continues to respond to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. 

Racing was halted on March 18th, five days before the Government introduced lockdown measures, with a view towards bringing it back in a controlled environment as soon as was feasibly possible to do so. Plans had been put in place for a return behind closed doors at the beginning of May, but with the lockdown measures largely expected to be extended for a further three weeks, that has been extended indefinitely. 

However the Authority stressed in a statement that it was still hopeful of a return to racing next month. It read: "The BHA has not set a new date for ending the suspension but plans are in place so that the sport is ready to resume as soon as is possible and appropriate in consultation with government.

"The BHA has been working with trainers, racecourses and other participants to develop a phased plan for resumption which will allow the sport to transition back to its normal fixture list later in the year. We remain in constant contact with government and are ready to respond quickly.

"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."

The BHA’s Chief Executive, Nick Rust, added: “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 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.”

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