We’re back on course
Mike Deasy on the wait that’s finally over – we’re back on course
Ten races on the all-weather at Newcastle. That would once have been greeted by “there’s too much racing”. Now, 12 runners in each race, starting at 1pm and finishing at 6.15, are a very welcome sight – racing is back on course after being suspended since 18 March.
The announcement that guidelines had been issued allowing the resumption of sport, albeit behind closed doors, came at 4pm on Saturday afternoon.
For the second day running the BHA was trying to calm nerves as we anxiously awaited the “green light”. BHA chief executive Nick Rust expressed his confidence that racing would be able to hit the track running.
When the green light came, it was the result of a huge effort to get the sport back on the road in a way that would meet the government’s Covid19 Stage Three criteria.
And there was the unenviable job of putting together a shoehorned race programme that aimed to give as many horses as possible a chance to run, including those at the higher level an opportunity to prepare for the splurge of Group races which will now come thick and fast.
Some double-shifts were put in by the BHA and other stakeholder groups – the NTF, the PJA, the TBA, the RCA and others – to make it all possible. The resumpotion will help save livelihoods and businesses in the £4 billion industry
Nick Rust, said:
“This is an important stage towards a complete return for our industry and will help protect livelihoods and businesses. The timing is crucial for the breeding sector and we thank the government and officials at DCMS and Public Health England for their assistance in planning a safe return to racing.
“There is still a tough battle ahead before we can get fully back in business but this is a resilient and world-leading industry and we are ready for the task.
“Our plans for returning safely have been developed with the assistance of all the representative bodies in our sport and I believe the public can be reassured by the measures we will have in place.
“People understand how important it is for industries like ours to get back to work. Our participants know what will be asked of them when they attend a raceday. Together, we’ll stick to social distancing rules and prevent the virus spreading.”
It’s been a long wait, and one group of people who deserve recognition are the owners. By and large, they’ve continued to pay the bills despite their horses being unable to run and, for the foreseeable future, not being allowed into racecourses to see them run.
Trainers have relied on their continuing support to fund the staff who look after the welfare of more than 12,000 racehorses currently in training.
Having a moan
When it became apparent that racing was set to resume on 1 June, The Times talked to a number of the sport’s leading figures. They included the paper’s own racing editor, Rob Wright, Racing Post editor Tom Kerr, and last year’s champion apprentice Cieren Fallon.
Also asked was trainer Mark Johnston who couldn’t resist an opportunity to have a moan. He said: “There are people at the BHA who were perhaps more concerned about their reputation and public perception of racing than the actual logistics of staging a race meeting and minimising the spread.”
I’d like to Johnston to name the people, explain why he holds the view and present evidence to support his theory.
Reading the mood better was the Post’s Tom Kerr, who said it’s potentially one of the best month’s racing we’ll ever see.
It’s good that the Post is back. All I need to do is find somewhere why I can buy a copy
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