Horse racing could be first live sporting action in UK lockdown and can be ready to return in a WEEK as BHA chief vows to ‘bring live sport back’, saying ‘we don’t have Premier League stars training for six weeks’
- Horse racing would be ready to return in the next week if it got the green light
- The sport is in talks with the Government over the possibility of staging races
- BHA chief Nick Rust said its equine and human athletes are all ‘ready to go’
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Horse racing would be ready for a shock return within a week, according to the chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority.
The sport has held discussions with figures in the Government about a possible resuming of races when coronavirus lockdown protocols are relaxed, and BHA chief Nick Rust has claimed racing is ‘ready to go’ whenever they are given the green light.
Rust said that racing has the advantage of not needing weeks of training beforehand, and is ready to deliver the first batch of live sport to the nation since the lockdown began.
Horse racing could return within the next week and become the first live sport in action
BHA chief Nick Rust said racing doesn’t have the problem of waiting for athletes to be fit
‘We can be one of the first to go,’ he said, as reported by the BBC. ‘We don’t have Premier League footballers training for six weeks in our sport. Our equine and human athletes are ready to go within a week to help bring live sport back.
‘We don’t want to make the case ahead of public opinion. We’re saying, “We’re ready when you’re ready”, when the public health advice is ready. We have to keep working away with Government and try to bring racing back when it’s safe to do so.’
The sport was hit by major controversy when Cheltenham Festival went ahead in the last major meeting before the deadly disease swept its way across the UK.
Concerning pictures of mass crowds attending Cheltenham Festival in March drew criticisms
Hundreds of thousands of fans and punters flocked to the races in March, and there have been suggestions a large number of people contracted the virus amid the huge crowds.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup on 13 March was watched by 68,000 people – just before the Government’s ban on mass gatherings.
The decision to stage Cheltenham drew huge criticisms, with shadow sports minister Catherine West saying ‘serious questions’ needed to be asked.
She said: ‘Serious questions need to be asked about whether it was appropriate to have a mass gathering of tens of thousands of people while the rest of Europe were enacting social distancing and banning mass gatherings.’
Royal Ascot is still scheduled to take place behind closed doors commencing June 16
As the sport plots its return to the racetrack, which would be behind closed doors, a list of races have been drawn up with the hope of staging them in May.
These include the Nell Gwyn Stakes, Fred Darling Stakes, Craven Stakes and Greenham Stakes on the weekend of May 23/24.
Meanwhile, the Dante and Musidora Stakes has been pencilled in over the weekend of May 30-31.
Royal Ascot is still slated to take place behind closed doors in its existing slot, starting on June 16.