“The resumption of professional sports behind closed doors is allowed under our regulations, including horse racing, and we are working closely with governing bodies to develop an overall approach for the safe return of all sport.”
That was the statement from a Welsh government spokesperson following the news that sport will be resuming, after the UK government had given it the green light from June 1st. Horse racing and snooker were the first two sports to resume that day, with football returning later on this month – all behind closed doors.
It was days after the famous Cheltenham Festival that racing was halted – and the final meetings were held on March 17th. But after 76 days without horse racing, following the decision to indefinitely suspend racing in Britain as a precautionary measure amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the sun was shining in Newcastle. While it had a very different feel to it, racing had resumed – with the glimmer of hope a return to normality would be on the horizon. An eerie silence fell around the usually well-attended racecourse, where 10 races were being run. In the day’s opening race, the 22/1 chance Zodiakos upset the odds and took home the Welcome Back British Racing Handicap.
While you read up on the results for all of today’s horse racing meetings, Monday 1st June will be a significant day in terms of a return to normality, as far as the resumption of sport is concerned. It’s a day that will be followed with other nations overcoming the last couple of months of turmoil – with racing resuming in Ireland from June 8th, where Naas plays host to the first races in the Emerald Isle. The British Horseracing Authority has since reached an agreement with Welsh racecourses to stage races behind closed doors, as of June 15th. Chepstow will be the first to open its doors, with the summer jumps season resuming at Bangor in July, and Ffos Las returning to action as late as October.
The Executive Director of Chepstow Racecourse Phil Bell commented: “There will be a lot of work to do for everyone to adapt the way we run race meetings and meet the stringent safety requirements that have been set out by BHA, but we are very much looking forward to meeting the challenge and getting back to work.”
The protocols in place will mirror those across the rest of Britain where racing has resumed. The main restrictions in place are regarding the limited number of attendees, which conforms to social distancing measures. A three-stage screening process will take place on arrival and safeguarding measures will be constantly under review. Similarly, strict hygiene measures including wearing face masks and relevant (doctoral) staff wearing PPE will need to be adhered to. Like we saw at Newcastle, each race will have a limited number of runners – and while the horses still made their way around the parade ring in the paddock, jockeys had to adhere to a strict one-way system and markings showed where they and other connections could stand.
The fixture list is now up to date and in addition to June 15th, flat racing will take place at Chepstow on June 23rd and 30th. Ahead of those races – and the British Classics getting underway this weekend – find the latest horse racing tips from today online.