Owners set to return to racecourses from March 29

Owners are on course to make a limited return to the track from the end of March.

An update issued to owners and other industry stakeholders by the British Horseracing Authority on Monday morning confirmed planning is under way for owners to be admitted to racecourses again in England and Scotland on March 29, although further guidance is awaited in Wales.

The BHA underlined racing is “enormously grateful to owners for their patience, understanding and unwavering support” and their return will “mark a significant step in the move to normality – and will be welcomed by the entire industry”.

Owners and trainers watch from the bandstand at Kelso
Owners and trainers watch from the bandstand at Kelso (Ian Rutherford/PA)

A “phased, risk-managed approach” approach will be employed, with owners asked to follow the BHA’s Covid requirements and protocols, and initial numbers will be controlled with facilities also limited.

The update said: “Unless agreed otherwise with local authorities, from March 29 to April 12, access to the racecourse will be limited to a maximum of two owners per horse, as was the case initially when owners returned in July 2020.

“Racecourses are not able to provide hospitality at this stage, due to government restrictions, but light refreshments will be available and there will be no time limit on how long owners are able to remain on course.

“We aim to increase access to a maximum of six owners per horse from 12 April, following the further easing in government restrictions. At this point, racecourses will also be permitted to reintroduce outdoor hospitality.

“Specific arrangements remain subject not only to government guidance, but also local authority decision-making, and therefore conditions may vary according to racecourse area.

Ludlow was one of the first tracks to welcome back crowds in December
Ludlow was one of the first tracks to welcome back crowds in December (David Davies/PA)

“Racecourse officials are currently liaising with their local authorities and will contact owners directly ahead of each fixture with further details of any local requirements.”

Crowds have been largely absent since the fixture list resumed in the summer, following two months without any racing during the early stages of the pandemic.

Two pilot events did take place at Warwick and Doncaster, before a brief return of spectators in December until lockdown returned as coronavirus cases increased again.

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