British racing set to return on 1 June

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  • Racing is set to resume in Britain on 1 June behind closed doors, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced.

    The first meeting will be an all-weather fixture at Newcastle and cards for 2-8 June are also planned for a select number of racecourses.

    Multiple fixtures will be held across Haydock, Chelmsford City, Newmarket, Lingfield, Yarmouth and Kempton over the first eight days of the sport’s return. Click here for the BHA fixture list.

    “To support this plan, the sport will publish by Monday [18 May] a timetable setting out the preparatory steps we need to work on together, prior to the return of racing, to ensure we are ready to meet that date,” said a statement from the BHA.

    “This will include an outline of the processes and protocols that need to be agreed and communicated across the industry, and we will be asking for your help and support in ensuring that this ‘lead-in’ preparation is completed as quickly as possible.”

    The BHA is working with racecourses to develop a fixture list and race programme to cover 9 June onwards. The list and programme for the rest of June is set to be published by the end of next week.

    The plans include the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas on 6-7 June, as well as provisional dates for Royal Ascot (16-20 June), the Derby and Oaks (Saturday 4 July) and the Eclipse (5 July).

    “As with all race planning at this point, the exact timetable is based on our best-case scenario planning and remains subject to an assessment by public health officials of the risks posed by the virus at the time,” adds the statement.

    Strict measures will be in force on racedays, and racecourses are working with the BHA’s course inspectors on these measures.

    “This includes planning for how a raceday will function — including entry and exit and movement around the site — while maintaining social distancing,” adds the statement.

    “The details of these changes will be communicated to the industry in good time, to ensure that participants, staff and officials understand the requirements that have been introduced and how they will apply during a raceday.

    “As explained in previous updates, attendance at each meeting will be limited to only those personnel required to deliver the race fixture, with the number able to attend determined by public health restrictions in place at the time. These restrictions on attendance will be continually reviewed and gradually eased to accommodate connections, including owners, and other raceday staff in line with government guidance.

    The first preparatory measures include pre-clearing passport vaccination checks through a new app, which will help BHA staff and those travelling with horses maintain social distancing on racedays.

    Weatherbys is contacting trainers today with details.

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    The BHA is also making changes to handicapping and prize money, in light of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

    “The BHA’s chief medical advisor, Dr Jerry Hill, continues to work with counterparts from other major sports, the UK government and Public Health England to develop the principles around the safe resumption of sport,” adds the statement.

    “The BHA also remains in regular dialogue with the UK sports minister. These discussions will help inform and complement the work already being undertaken by the industry – in particular, racecourses – to facilitate a safe and responsible return to racing behind closed doors.

    “As explained above, the UK government has set out its provisional timetable for the resumption of sport behind closed doors. The UK government has also confirmed that it will work with the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales to ensure where possible that plans for easing lockdown restrictions are coordinated.

    “It is, nonetheless, possible that circumstances and timescales may differ across the UK, and the BHA public affairs team is also in direct contact with the sport ministers in Scotland and Wales around planning for a risk-managed resumption of racing as soon as possible.”

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