Racing in Britain is working towards a resumption on May 15 after positive meetings with government officials within the last seven days, in what would be one of the first return to action for sports following the Covid-19 outbreak.
British horse racing chief executive Nick Rust has told the BBC it would be ready to resume quicker than most other sports, but emphasised that the sport would only be willing to return to action if deemed safe by the government safety regulations.
“We can be one of the first to go,” he said. “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.”
Trainer Kim Bailey believes it is definitely conceivable that racing will able to safely return next week, but concedes it is still speculation.
“It’s realistic and likely since the BHA (British Horseracing Authority) have been in close communications with the government and they seem to think it’s a real possibility (that it is able to return next week), but at the moment it’s only rumours so it remains unclear.“
Bailey added “I have plenty of doubts (whether it will be able to go ahead) at this moment in time, because we haven’t had a governmental confirmation and we don’t know whether we’re going to be out of lockdown
Recently, there have been calls for an investigation into whether the Cheltenham horse racing festival should have gone ahead last month, due to concerns it may have led to a high number of local coronavirus cases with approximately 150,000 people attending the prestigious four-day event, ending 10 days before lockdown measures began.
Bailey, whose stables are eight miles from the course , has defended the decision for the event to go ahead. “The government gave it every permission to go ahead. There were football matches the following day, the were concerts the following day, people were getting on tubes and pubs were packed on the Saturday night so I don’t think Cheltenham (festival) has anything to answer.”