Owners still able to attend meetings – but new restrictions from Thursday

Owners will still be able to attend race meetings in England when the new Government coronavirus lockdown comes into effect on Thursday – but numbers will be reduced and time on course restricted.

No more than two owners per horse will be able to attend, complying with the restriction that limits social mixing between households.

Time on course for owners will be limited as was the case when they returned to racecourses in July. They will be able to arrive 45 minutes before their horse runs and asked to make their way home as soon as they can after the race.

Racecourses will not be able to provide hospitality, in line with the Government’s decision to close hospitality settings including restaurants, cafes and bars.

Owners look at Eponina in the parade ring ahead at Leicester
Owners look at Eponina in the parade ring ahead at Leicester (Tim Goode/PA)

A statement from racing industry leaders said: “These restrictions will be in place for the duration of the national lockdown in England, which is due to finish on December 2. Different rules are in place in Scotland and Wales, and owners should check the position with the relevant racecourse.

“The decision to allow racing to continue behind closed doors in England – with a limited number of owners attending – recognises racing’s status as an elite sport. Racing’s participants and owners have acted with great responsibility and professionalism since the sport resumed on June 1. Strict controls have been in place and there is no evidence that the virus has been transmitted at a meeting behind closed doors.

“Owners and participants attending meetings during the national lockdown will be expected to adhere to Government’s travel guidance, and should travel directly to and from the venue without stopping where possible, and avoid car sharing with anyone outside their own household or support bubble.

“Continued observance of these measures is vital to ensure that the sport continues behind closed doors.”

Owners to return to Irish tracks from Monday

Horse Racing Ireland has announced owners can return to the track from Monday.

In line with new Irish Government guidelines which now permit racing and other outdoor sports to have a limited number of spectators, owners can now be welcomed back.

HRI had previously stated owners were among their top priorities as the industry attempts to return to some sense of normality and from Monday two people per horse will be allowed.

Pre-meeting health screening and temperature checks will be required.

Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of HRI, said: “We are delighted to confirm that for the first time since March 13, owners will be permitted to return to the racecourse from Monday next.

“Owners play the most important role in Irish racing and they have had to wait quite some time to return to the racecourse to see their horses run.

“We have always said that getting owners back on the racecourse was our first priority and we have been working closely on this with the Association of Irish Racehorse Owners and their representative Caren Walsh.

“As all key personnel who have been racing behind closed doors since June 8 will testify, these are not race fixtures as we used to know them, and given the ongoing public health risk, it remains as important now as it ever has been, that all those attending racecourses adhere strictly to the race day protocols.

“Since we resumed racing in Ireland, the level of care and compliance with the Covid-19 protocols has been excellent and it is vital that everybody continues to comply with the rules on the racecourse around pre-health screening, social distancing and the wearing of face masks or coverings at all times.”