Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
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HORSE racing in the United Kingdom resumes today with a behind-closed-doors meeting at Newcastle for the first fixture since racing was suspended on March 18 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
A host of health and safety protocols have been implemented to adhere to strict health and safety conditions for the inaugural 10-race card where fields are limited to a maximum 12 runners.
Restrictions, alongside the absence of spectators and racehorse owners, include the requirement that attendees complete a three-stage screening process, including medical checks before departure and on arrival.
Social distancing officials will be in place to ensure that the relevant procedures are strictly adhered to.
The British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) chief medical adviser, Dr Jerry Hill, said:
“Our approach to screening and surveillance has been developed following discussions with Public Health England as part of the Chief Medical Officers in Sport Group.
“It is based on the low level of background risks at an outdoor event in a non-contact sport with attendees from mainly rural areas. It is responsible, makes sensible use of medical resources but is flexible so we can adapt in accordance with changing government policy and as our knowledge of Covid-19 increases over time.”
The timing of return allows the first classic races of the season, the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas and QIPCO 1000 Guineas to take place on June 6 and 7, the highlights of a four-day behind-closed-door meeting at Newmarket which commences on Thursday, June 4.
Amy Starkey, the former Kempton Park boss and now regional director of the jockey club’s east region, said: “We are delighted that we have been able to reschedule the QIPCO Guineas Festival and are incredibly grateful for the support we have received from stakeholders across the industry in putting together four days of fantastic racing.
“Key to our ability to do this has been the backing of our sponsors, and so we thank QIPCO, Betfair, Betway, Hurworth Bloodstock and the EBF for working with us so constructively in what have been remarkable circumstances to deliver a programme of races that are vital in helping the industry get back on its feet.
“These four days will not replicate the thrill of the QIPCO Guineas Festival as we know it, because without the owners and racegoers who create the atmosphere, things will not be the same. However, we hope that the racing community will enjoy the action from home and be buoyed by the return of the sport we love at its spiritual home.
“Our team is working tirelessly to ensure the Rowley Mile is a safe place for all those involved in delivering these four days and we once again thank all stakeholders for their understanding and assistance in our work towards this goal.”
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