Horseracing is set to resume at Lingfield on Wednesday (7 March) following a seven-day suspension of the sport due to the foot and mouth crisis.

John Maxse, the Jockey Club’s director of public affairs, said on Monday (5 March): “We intend to start racing again on Wednesday at Lingfield. There is also the possibility of an extra fixture being drawn up for Thursday because the meetings scheduled for that day have been lost because of the foot and mouth.”

All racecourses will be required to adhere to strict guidelines which involve the disinfecting of all vehicles, horses and people entering and leaving the course.

Maxse continued: “The continuing number of foot and mouth cases is worrying But they do seem to be in the same geographical areas as the previous outbreaks.

So far Lingfield on Wednesday and Sandown on Friday and Saturday are in the clear.”

The meeting at Chepstow on Saturday has been abandoned because the course lies in the exclusion zone set upby the Ministry of Agriculture to help stop the spread of foot and mouth.

Ayr’s fixture on Friday and Saturday is in the balance. A decision will be made on Tuesday whether or not the meeting goes ahead.

“It is tricky for us because the course is in the town, but it is surrounded by a strong farming area,” said clerk of the course Richard Pridham. “The racecourse committee is discussing things and a decision will be reached on Tuesday.”

Prospects for the big three-day Cheltenham,which starts next Tuesday, rose when it was confirmed that the suspected foot and mouth case five miles from the course was “not a problem”

“I understand that the farm at Woolstone is not a problem, which is a great relief for the farmer and for ourselves,” said clerk of the course Simon Claisse. “But the situation could change at any time.”

Tickets sales for the Grand National on April 7 have all but dried up as a result of the uncertainty caused by the foot and mouth.

Aintree managing director Charles Barnett admitted that ticket sales have “plummeted” because people are waiting to see what happens. But he is confident they will be back on track once racing returns and the public’s confidence is restored.______________________________________________________________