Races limited to senior jockeys and 12 runners when sport returns under BHA plans – BBC News

Racing is set to be held behind closed doors when it returns

Races with a maximum of 12 runners ridden by senior jockeys in an extended Flat racing season are planned when the sport returns in Great Britain.

Action has been suspended since 17 March because of the coronavirus crisis but racing chiefs hope for a return behind closed doors next month.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is working on a revised fixture list.

Initial proposals, dependent on backing for a return from the government, have been sent to racehorse trainers.

Analysis from the BHA’s medical department indicates that more experienced riders are less likely to suffer injuries, and racing’s leaders are keen that any return limits demands on the under-pressure NHS.

“Only the more senior jockeys will be able to ride under initial plans. This will be reviewed continually as resumption progresses,” says the letter to trainers.

This would rule out apprentice jockeys riding in the races taking place immediately after the sport returns.

Initial plans outlined by a ‘Resumption of Racing’ working group include:

  • Publishing a proposed fixture list within the next 14 days for the first two months following resumption.
  • A maximum of 12 runners per race initially to reduce the risk of injuries and help with social distancing.
  • More races per meeting, but some lower-rated horses may struggle to get a run early on.
  • Extending the Flat season beyond its normal end date, which was scheduled to be 7 November this year.
  • To reduce the risk of infection, no-one will be allowed to attend more than one fixture a day. Attendance will be limited to only those people required to deliver the fixture.

Last week the BHA extended the suspension of British racing indefinitely and said no spectators would be allowed until June at the earliest.

It is hoped the season’s first two Classics, the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas, can take place in June after the early May fixture was postponed.

Organisers of the Royal Ascot meeting are planning for it to go ahead, without spectators, in June while the Oaks and the Derby have been earmarked for July.

“The BHA, acting on behalf of the industry-wide Public Affairs Group and alongside other major sports, has been meeting the UK Sports Minister by phone every week since lockdown commenced,” adds the letter.

One suggestion for the resumption of racing is the use of racecourse ‘hubs’, such as Lingfield, Newcastle and Newmarket where jockeys, stable staff and officials could stay close by or on site in hotels.

Early next week, the BHA’s chief regulatory officer Brant Dunshea will meet representatives of other racing jurisdictions, including France, Ireland and Germany, to discuss how different countries are planning for resumption.

Racing has continued behind closed doors at tracks in Hong Kong, Australia and the United States.

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