Racing behind closed doors

By Mark Elson   |   Senior Reporter   |
Wednesday 25th March 2020 9:28 am
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RACING went behind closed doors at Chepstow Racecourse last Thursday (March 19), after its owners suspended public entry to the end of the month, a period which is likely to be extended.

The course has scheduled a Grand National Race Day on Saturday, April 4, with an end of day performance by Bruce Foxton and From The Jam, but with the national itself shelved owing to the coronavirus outbreak, the Chepstow event must also be under threat.  

The Monmouthshire Point-to-Point at Monmouth Showground this Saturday (March 28) is also off, along with the rest of the current British point-to-point season.

A statement by Chepstow owners the ARC Group released on Monday, March 16, said: “Following this afternoon’s announcements from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Arena Racing Company (ARC), we can confirm that all horseracing fixtures across the ARC Group will take place behind closed doors from Tuesday, March 17, until at least the end of the month.

“It is, unfortunately, likely that this period will be extended. This includes our next fixture at Chepstow Racecourse on Thursday, March 19.

“We would like to apologise for the inconvenience this causes, but no one beyond the minimum essential staff required to operate the race day will be admitted. 

“Unfortunately, racehorse owners will not be permitted entry to the site, as will anyone who turns up on the day.

“Anyone who has booked tickets or hospitality during this time will be offered to reschedule their booking or receive a full refund. “In this instance, please contact [email protected] or call 01291 622260.”

An extended statement added: “Only the minimum levels of essential racecourse and BHA officials, jockeys, one trainer’s representative and an appropriate number of racing staff per horse will be allowed admittance.

“The very minimum crew required to maintain broadcast facilities will be permitted on site at each fixture and the Press Association will undertake the established process to ensure the continued supply of raceday data.

“A number of additional steps to maintain the health and safety of the very minimal numbers attending each site will be taken, and each site will continue to encourage all those in attendance to follow Government and NHS advice regarding their own personal health.

Meanwhile, the organisers of one of the biggest mass participant sporting events in the Forest, The Forest of Dean Spring Trails Half Marathon, were still saying last week that they hoped to go ahead with the race this Sunday (March 29).

A statement on the race website said: “It is our intention to proceed with the Forest of Dean Spring Trails Half Marathon as planned unless otherwise required by the government or public authority or local authority.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and will appraise participants and potential spectators of any change in the situation as the event date draws closer.”

However the Kymin Dash seven-mile run based in Monmouth, which attracts more than 300 runners and was scheduled for the same day, has been postponed.

A statement from Spirit of Monmouth RC said: “Given the escalating nature of the pandemic we believe the right course of action is to minimise the risk to runners and volunteers. Consequently, we have decided not to hold our race on March 29.”

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