St Leger meeting in September set to be first to admit spectators since March

The St Leger is the fifth and final UK Classic race of the season. (Pic: Courtesy of Arena Racing Company).

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THE ST LEGER meeting at Doncaster on September 9 – 12 is scheduled to be the first to admit spectators since March, following news of a new pilot scheme for sports.

Spectators were scheduled to return for the last day of Glorious Goodwood only for the initiative to be called off by the Government on the eve of the event.

The St Leger Festival is the first of three pilot events and will be followed by racing at Warwick racecourse (September 21) and the Cambridgeshire Meeting at Newmarket (September 24 – 26).

Horse racing in the UK returned on June 1. All meetings have operated on a strictly behind closed doors basis, permitting only participants directly required to operate the meeting and more recently a restricted number of racehorse owners. 

A maximum of 3,640 general admissions are permitted on the first day of the St Leger meeting, rising to 6,202 general admissions for the following three days. 

Mark Spincer, managing director of Arena Racing Company’s (ARC) Racing Division, said: “We are delighted that the government and local authorities have taken the decision to allow us to pilot the return of a crowd at Doncaster Racecourse.

“We were very proud to host the return of racing behind closed doors at Newcastle at the beginning of June and are grateful to the Government for showing confidence in us to host this event.

“As with all sport and other live events, welcoming a crowd is absolutely fundamental to our business as well as being the heart and soul of the spectacle.  The team at Doncaster have worked incredibly hard on making sure that we have all of the steps in place to welcome a limited number of spectators in a safe and efficient manner and we are really looking forward to welcoming people back on site to enjoy four excellent days of racing. 

“The event is, of course, a pilot so the experience may be different than customers may have got used to in previous years but we are putting everything in to making sure that our customers can have an enjoyable afternoon’s racing as well as offering valuable feedback to the process of allowing crowds back to sporting events more generally.

“The impact of the national lockdown has been immense on the racing industry, as it has been to all sports and live events businesses.  Whilst we have been delighted to get back to work behind closed doors, our industry and many others rely massively on crowds, so to get this pilot event is a huge step in the right direction for all of us. 

“I would particularly like to thank our colleagues at BHA, the Racecourse Association, other racecourses and everyone across the sport who have been particularly helpful in sharing ideas and expertise at this difficult time.

“We know that we may still be subject to the vagaries of the current situation beyond our control, but we will ensure that we get the elements that are under our control right and that our customers can enjoy coming racing once again.”

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