Return of racing unclear in Johnsons plan to ease lockdown in UK

  • Return of racing unclear in Johnsons plan to ease lockdown in UK

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled plans for easing lockdown across England, but no resumption date has been set for racing.

Johnson dubbed the plan “conditional” as he detailed a three part scheme aimed at ending the lockdown that has been enforced across the country on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK is working towards the second stage with the government easing certain social restrictions including rules about outdoor exercise. Primary schools could reopen as part of the second phase from 1 June, while the third phase is said to involve certain areas of the hospitality sector such as restaurants, which are expected to reopen from 1 July.

Johnson said: “It’s now almost two months since the people of this country began to put up with restrictions on their freedom of a kind that we have never seen before in peace or war.

“We have made progress, but this is not the time to end lockdown. Instead, we’re taking the first careful steps to modify our measures.”

Johnson did not speak about restarting sporting activity including racing and now the resumption of racing group will meet Monday to chart a way forward.

The group published a provisional race programme for the first week of action last Thursday, which included a reworked schedule for Pattern races and a number of restrictions, including 12-runner fields and the initial participation of only experienced jockeys.

The group has resisted setting a date for the return of the sport, but it is widely believed that a restart had been scheduled for 15 May.

Paul Struthers, the Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, said: “There are a number of matters that need to be finalised but the work is really advanced.

“I was a little sceptical of the initial date that came out (15 May) because the general message from trainers is that when they know a date, their horses are probably a week or two away from a run.

“I suspect there will be more conversations behind closed doors with government representatives on Monday. It’s important we get all areas of the economy going. Racing is not a special case, but it’s a massive industry, particularly within the rural communities.

“We can be hopeful of being able to resume before the end of the month or the start of June. You’re almost certainly not going to start on a Bank Holiday [25 May] so somewhere between 26 May and 1 June would hopefully be realistic. That would incidentally coincide with the UK being two weeks behind France.”

  • HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid

    HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum