British Horseracing Authority push back return of racing to May at earliest

BHA has decided racing with crowds will not be possible until June at earliest

 The British Horseracing Authority has announced the suspension of racing due to the coronavirus pandemic will be extended beyond the end of April to an as yet unspecified date. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

The British Horseracing Authority has announced the suspension of racing due to the coronavirus pandemic will be extended beyond the end of April to an as yet unspecified date. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

 

The suspension of racing in Britain due to the coronavirus pandemic will continue beyond the end of April, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced.

The sport was brought to a halt on March 18th, with the BHA initially deciding to call off all meetings until at least May 1st.

However, with the British government widely expected to extend the current lockdown on Thursday, the BHA board has already moved to extend the suspension, with no date specified for a return.

The BHA said in a statement: “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.”

BHA 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 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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