UK horse racing takes step back to ‘behind closed doors’
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hit the UK horse racing industry with a bit of the old good news/bad news this week. On the good news side, the PM will allow the races to go on (sort of) as planned. But that news was combined with the gut-wrenching news that all proposals to have fans on hand for those races were being dashed as the country battles the long-awaited second wave of the COVID-19 virus.
The news of additional restrictions on horse racing tracks and casinos comes as some tracks, such as Newmarket were getting ready to welcome fans back to the stands. At Newmarket, track officials had planned to welcome as many as 1,000 fans to watch the Cambridgeshire meeting. That event is now being raced “behind closed doors”, which means nowhere near 1,000 fans would be seeing the race in person.
Amy Starkey, the east regional director for the Jockey Club took the news with a typical stiff upper lip telling the Cambridge News, “We’re pleased to be working closely with local authorities to stage a limited spectator trial at the Rowley Mile over the course of the Cambridgeshire Meeting.”
“The racecourse is a vast, predominantly outdoor environment that could safely space out several thousand people, not just the maximum 1,000 who will be in attendance with stringent health and safety measures in place.
“The Newmarket trial will provide important insights we can share across our industry and with other sports, so that when it is possible to welcome some level of spectators back to events more regularly in the future we are well equipped to do so.”
At this point, the only thing that race track directors and casino owners can count on…is more chaos and change until a viable COVID-19 vaccine is developed.