May 2021

Joint statement issued on behalf of the British Horseracing Authority, Racecourse Association & The Horsemen’s Group


Image above: DASHING WILLOUGHBY (Credit: Megan Rose Photography)

Racecourses are set to welcome spectators through their turnstiles once more from 17 May, following confirmation from the UK Government that the next stage of its roadmap out of lockdown will go ahead as planned.

The announcement means an end to ‘behind closed doors’ racing in England and the beginning of a safe return for spectators, with up to 4,000 people permitted to attend meetings from Monday 17 May.

It also marks a significant step in the return to a more traditional racecourse experience, with planning under way to allow owners to see their horses and meet with trainers and jockeys in the parade ring from this date, as a result of changes to elements of the existing raceday protocols.

These developments are in line with plans set out in February for British racing’s easing of lockdown restrictions, aligned to the UK Government roadmap and its guidelines for sporting events.

Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), said:

“It is extremely exciting that we are finally able to welcome racegoers back to our racecourses. It will allow racing’s many fans to come back to the sport they love after more than a year away. We know there is a huge public demand for families and friends to meet up, outdoors, enjoy great food and drink and the unique social occasion of a race-meeting.

“In addition, from next week, racing can once again offer our owners the opportunity to feel much closer to the action on a racecourse by returning to the parade ring. Racing’s leaders very much appreciate the commitment and patience shown by owners over the past year when their attendance and experience at racecourses has been restricted by the pandemic.”

David Armstrong, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association (RCA), said:

“This next step in the Government’s roadmap is hugely important milestone in the recovery of British Racing. Racecourses are very excited to welcome racegoers back and to be able to offer them a full raceday experience whilst extending our provision for owners to whom the sport remain greater in for their continued support.

“Lockdown began almost 14 months ago and it has been a very challenging journey for the industry and for racecourses in particular through several false starts and aborted pilot events. May the 17th marks a key step on the return to normality.”

Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) said:

“Owners have played a critical role in keeping horse racing going behind closed doors throughout the past 12 months, contributing over £30 million a month in training fees alone. Whilst the invoices have continued, the ability to go racing and be a part of the race day experience has been greatly hindered as the country, and the wider industry, dealt with the pandemic at large. It is therefore a welcome step that come May 17th owners can get a step closer to the action with a return to the parade ring. There is more work to be done and we will continue to work with the BHA and RCA to improve the race day experience for owners, whilst recognising this milestone in the Government’s roadmap.”

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