The coronavirus pandemic appears to be slowing down in the UK as a result of the lengthy lockdown and while there is still a while to go before things can return to normal, there is a strong possibility that the government will be announcing some relaxation of the lockdown measures this weekend. Clearly everyone across the industry will be eager to learn of the possibility of Horseracing resuming in the very near future although with the situation still far from clear, cautious optimism is the key word right now.
The government will be outlining the next phase of it’s coronavirus response on Sunday and the general feeling is that there will be some relaxation to the lockdown and possibly a realistic timeline for the resumption of major sports such as Horseracing. This is certainly the hope amongst those involved in the sport and the governing body continues to have positive talks with government and public health officials.
Earlier in the week, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, hinted that there may be a resumption of many sports in the coming weeks and he confirmed that he was open to Horseracing returning as early as next month. This would clearly need to be done in a safe way and plans are being developed to ensure this is the case.
Any plans put in place for the resumption of Horseracing – and other major sports – will need to be flexible to take into account various scenarios which may occur and they will be implemented in line with any easing of restrictions in the coming weeks.
The BHA has been having constant talks with the UK government and devolved assemblies regarding the immediate future of the sport and the possible ramifications should the lockdown continue for much longer. Health and safety is clearly paramount, however the BHA have demonstrated to government that much work is being done to ensure a responsible and safe return to racing.
Whenever racing does actually return, a provisional outline race programme has been published by the BHA which outlines which racing will take place in the first 7 days of resumption. These races have been categorised by region – South, Midlands and North – as well as by class, type and distance. A provisional programme is also being prepared for the subsequent weeks. These programmes have been prepared using guidance from the relevant health authorities and are subject to all conditions and restrictions which will be put in place during what will certainly be a slow phased return to racing.
Either way, the general feeling is one of guarded optimism that the sport we all love will soon be making a comeback.