The British HorseRacing Authority took big steps this week, as racing resumed at Newcastle on Monday 1st June since it was postponed on the 2nd April amid the COVID-19 outbreak, which unfortunately meant that the running of the 2020 Grand National due to take place was scrapped.
The Grand National had not been cancelled since 1941-1945 during the Second World War, which really puts into perspective the seriousness of the situation; even when there was a bomb scare in 1997, the race was still run, just 48 hours later than planned.
Whilst fans attending is a hope for the future, the fact that horse racing will be back on TV screens across the national is enough for many during these unprecedented times. Yards up and down the country have still been functioning to an extent, however many staff have been placed on the furlough scheme as there hasn’t been the demand and same amount of work available during the crisis.
Strict rules have been put in place for the safety of those in the industry, as although things are getting back up and running, there is still a lot of risk and uncertainty over the virus.
Requirements for staff taking horses racing are numerous and include;
- Completing a compulsory training course on ‘COVID-19 information for participants of the racing industry.
- A health questionnaire which must be completed and emailed before the day, otherwise they will not be allowed to attend – this is valid for 7 days, so if the staff member is racing regularly it will need to be filled in numerous times.
- Contacting the BHA if their health changes since the questionnaire is filled in.
- Racecourse canteens will be closed, with staff needing to take their own food, however bottled water will still be provided.
- Having a fully charged phone and power bank where possible.
Once you get to the course, the requirements continue;
- There will be a health screening which includes having your temperature taken twice (if over 37.8 entrance to the racecourse will be prohibited) and asked some health questions.
- All equipment must be disinfected before and afterwards.
- Face coverings MUST be worn on the racecourse where social distancing isn’t possible and when travelling with those outside your household.
- If you have symptoms, you must return to the lorry immediately and call the trainer.
- There will be designated isolation areas.
Although it is yet to be announced when members of the public will be available to start attending the races, the resumption of this great sport is an amazing step forward for all involved and we are back on the track, heading towards normality.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those that have been affected by the current pandemic and our thanks go out to all workers that have kept things functioning as normal as possible.