The sporting world has almost been put to a standstill with the Coronavirus reeking havoc across the world but horse racing is set to continue across the UK and Ireland but with no spectators.
Luckily for racing fans the four greatest days of the year at the Cheltenham festival managed to go ahead without a hitch and also the weekends meeting that were staged also went to plan but racing this week is to look very different than usual with Coronavirus stopping any fans from being on track.
Fixtures in Ireland were closed to the public from Friday evening and it is a similar situation in Scotland, following guidance from the Irish and Scottish governments regarding the banning of mass gatherings with over 500 people.
The governing body for racing, the BHA released a statement saying: “Racing industry leaders are preparing to hold race meetings without spectators and to ensure that the competitors and participants attending only do so under strict conditions.
“The sport’s tripartite leadership, including racecourses, participants and the governing body, the British Horse-racing Authority, will tomorrow discuss an approach recommended by the industry’s COVID 19 group.
“It is likely to mean that racing moves behind closed doors later in the week, initially until the end of March. Racing’s fixture list will also be considered.
“With race meetings due to happen every day, the intention is to agree a programme that is sustainable in the light of possible staff absences, including in critical roles, which protects industry staff and supports the wider effort to free up critical public services.”
There are fears by many race-goers that the Grand National will also be held behind closed doors which would be a catastrophic decision if it had to come to that with it being one of the biggest sporting occasions of the year.
The statement added: “The BHA has been closely following official guidance on public health. Details of contingency plans have been shared with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
“Racing has continued to observe the Government’s request for a proportionate response that takes into account public health and the impact on jobs and businesses.
“The UK Government has also been briefed on the issues involved in staging the Randox Health Grand National. A decision will be announced as soon as possible.”
(Credit At The Races) Nick Rust, chief executive of the BHA, said: “Racing has worked hard to look after our customers and our staff by following the government’s guidance and taking proportionate action.
“We will agree plans to limit attendance to participants and staff only at race meetings from this week and put in place the contingency plans developed by the industry."
Monday has thrown out the first meeting behind closed doors with Kelso in Scotland set to hold their meeting with no punters or bookmakers at the track.