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Racing in Britain to go behind...
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Racing in Britain to go behind closed doors amid coronavirus outbreak

Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

20:07 15 Mar 2020

The British Horseracing Authority has confirmed that it is planning to go ahead with race meetings amid the coronavirus outbreak.

In an official statement released on Sunday, the BHA has revealed that a meeting will be held on Monday to discuss holding meetings behind closed doors.

There was widespread criticism over the decision to go ahead with the four-day Cheltenham festival, which drew massive crowds, last week while other meetings also went ahead across the weekend.

The statement reads: "Racing industry leaders are preparing to hold race meetings without spectators and to ensure that the competitors and participants attending only do so under strict conditions.

"The sport's tripartite leadership, including racecourses, participants and the governing body, the British Horseracing Authority, will tomorrow discuss an approach recommended by the industry's COVID 19 group.

"It is likely to mean that racing moves behind closed doors later in the week, initially until the end of March. Racing's fixture list will also be considered.

"With race meetings due to happen every day, the intention is to agree a programme that is sustainable in the light of possible staff absences, including in critical roles, which protects industry staff and supports the wider effort to free up critical public services."

The move would bring UK racing in line with Ireland after Horse Racing Ireland announced last Thursday that meetings will be held behind closed doors until March 29, following government advice.

There is a meeting at Kelso on Monday and no spectators will be permitted after advice was given by the Scottish government prohibiting gatherings of over 500 people due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nick Rust, the chief executive of the BHA, commented: "Racing has worked hard to look after our customers and our staff by following the government’s guidance and taking proportionate action," said Rust.

"We will agree plans to limit attendance to participants and staff only at race meetings from this week and put in place the contingency plans developed by the industry."

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