Posts

Racegoers to return to tracks in Wales next week

Spectators in Wales will be able to join those in England and Scotland in attending race meetings from next week after the Welsh government announced the public can return to sporting events on Monday.

Racegoers returned to tracks in England and Scotland on May 17, albeit in reduced numbers, and Chepstow’s meeting on June 11 will mark the first occasion Welsh fans can get back on course.

In both England and Wales, a maximum of 4,000 racegoers are permitted – excluding the pilot event at Royal Ascot which allows 12,000 people – while the limits in Scotland vary from track to track, with Ayr having a cap of 250 and up to 1,400 at Hamilton.

Racegoers watch the action at Haydock Park
Racegoers watch the action at Haydock Park (Tim Goode/PA)
Your first 30 days for just £1

The next stage of the road map out of Covid-19 restrictions is pencilled in for June 21, although it is not expected to confirm until June 14 if it will go ahead, and what guidelines will apply to sporting events in England.

David Armstrong, chief executive of the Racecourse Association, said: “The government said when it published the road map that it wanted Covid restrictions to be lifted from June 21 at the earliest, but it has also said repeatedly that it wants to proceed with caution.

“Racing is pushing hard for the maximum attendance at race meetings from that point and to remove the current rule that has a lower limit for outdoors sports compared to those that take place in stadia with ticketed seating. Our venues have very significant outdoors space, where transmission rates are lower, allowing spectators to be distributed over large areas.

“We may not find out what the guidelines are until a week before this change comes into effect but will be ready to reconfigure racecourses depending on decisions made by national and local authorities, who license each event.”

Royal Ascot is set to have a crowd of 12,000 on each day of its five-day meeting later this month
Royal Ascot is set to have a crowd of 12,000 on each day of its five-day meeting later this month (Julian Finney/PA)

Julie Harrington, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, added: “I’m very positive about the ability of racing to take place safely as we’ve demonstrated throughout the long period of racing behind closed doors. I have been able to make that point directly to ministers and am delighted that Royal Ascot has been selected as a pilot event.

“We are now awaiting the government’s review of social distancing rules, which need to be relaxed if we are to welcome back more spectators from June 21.

“There is a lot of speculation in the media, but the government has told us no decision has yet been made. We are working closely alongside other elite sports to seek clarity from government at the earliest possible moment. There are a number of major sporting events shortly after June 21, such as the Euros, Wimbledon, the Open Golf and the British Grand Prix.

“We thank all those owners and spectators attending racing at present for their patience in bearing with restrictions and look forward to the day when these can be safely removed.”

Claims of Doncaster link to Covid-19 outbreak proves false alarm

The British Horseracing Authority has been advised that a coach party thought to have visited Doncaster’s pilot crowd event last week and subsequently linked to a cluster of Covid-19 cases in Wales did not actually travel to the track.

Wales’s Health Minister Vaughan Gething pointed to a rugby club outing to Town Moor, which stopped at a “series of pubs on the way”, as one of two possible sources of the outbreak which has resulted in a local lockdown in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

However, Doncaster Racecourse issued a statement on Wednesday evening underlining it had no ticket bookings for any groups from the south Wales region and had not been contacted by the Welsh Government or NHS.

The BHA has subsequently been informed by Public Health Wales that the group had not attended the first day of the St Leger meeting as initially reported.

A statement said: “The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has been told by Public Health Wales (PHW) that a coach party from south Wales – now part of a Covid lockdown area in the Rhondda Cynon Taf – did not visit Doncaster Racecourse as reported.

“The BHA had been seeking further information about the case on behalf of Doncaster Racecourse, which had not been contacted by public health officials as part of a Test & Trace process and had no knowledge of the supposed visit.

“PHW confirmed that no contact had been made with Doncaster Racecourse because the group had not attended the pilot event last Wednesday, September 9, the first day of the St Leger Festival.

“PHW expect a formal clarification will be provided by the Welsh government as soon as possible. The BHA has passed on the information to ARC, which runs Doncaster Racecourse.”

The Welsh Government later said the group had not entered the racecourse as originally planned.

Around 2,500 spectators were on course for the first day of the St Leger meeting last Wednesday, although the planned four-day trial was curtailed after that opening card on the instruction of the local authority.

Doncaster refutes claims crowd pilot could be coronavirus case source

Doncaster racecourse has rejected claims from the Welsh Government that a “significant” cluster of Covid-19 cases in Rhondda Cynon Taf could be connected to last week’s crowd pilot at the track.

Around 2,500 spectators were on course for the first day of the St Leger meeting last Wednesday, although the planned four-day trial was curtailed after that opening card on the instruction of the local authority.

Wales’s Health Minister Vaughan Gething pointed to a rugby club outing to Town Moor, which stopped at a “series of pubs on the way”, as a possible source of the outbreak which has resulted in a local lockdown.

He said: “Our contact tracing teams have been able to trace about half of these cases back to a series of clusters within the borough.

“The rest are evidence of community transmission. There are a number of clusters within Rhondda Cynon Taf, two of which are significant.

“One is associated with a rugby club and a pub in the lower Rhondda. And the other with a club outing to the Doncaster races, which stopped off at a series of pubs on the way.”

However, Doncaster reported it had no ticket bookings for any groups from the South Wales region and had not been contacted by the Welsh Government or NHS.

A statement from the track said: “As a condition of running the pilot event last week, we were required to implement a full track and trace database that took the details of all attendees that would be on site, linked to an e-ticket and photo ID system on entry that would verify attendance.

“Doncaster Racecourse has received no contact from any organisation, including the NHS or the Welsh Government, to verify the attendance of any individuals at last week’s event for the purposes of track and trace. In addition, we do not have any ticket bookings for any groups from the South Wales area for Wednesday’s event.

“We will be contacting the Welsh Health Minister as a matter of urgency to clarify the situation.”