Crowds to be permitted to St Leger meeting at Doncaster as part of new racing ‘pilot’

A LIMITED number of spectators will be permitted to attend next month’s St Leger meeting at Doncaster after the Government gave permission for the track to stage a ‘pilot’ event.

Crowds will be able to attend next month's St Leger meeting at Doncaster - the world's oldest Classic was won in 2019 by Frankie Dettori on Logician.

The announcement follows the cancellation of a ‘test’ event at Goodwood on August 1 after a spike in Covid cases.

Now the St Leger festival from September 9-12 will be the forerunner for other trial schemes at Warwick on September 21, and Newmarket between September 24-26.

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These will be the forerunner to more fans being permitted to return to sporting fixtures from October 1.

The Beverley Bullet is the highlight of today's action at the Westwood track.

Each racecourse was required to submit a detailed risk assessment. Each fixture has been selected to provide a detailed case study for other venues to follow.

David Armstrong, chief executive of the Racecourse Association, said: “We are pleased to receive confirmation of our pilot events to welcome back crowds to racecourses.

“We are confident the events selected will provide strong case studies which will be of use to all. The disappointment of postponing our last confirmed pilot at Goodwood was felt across the sport, but the learnings and behind-the-scenes work have been of great value to others.”

Doncaster is planning for a maximum of 3,640 general admissions on the Wednesday, rising to 6,202 on the final three days of the fixture.

Former Nunthorpe winner Alpha Delphini lines up in today's beverley Bullet, the feature race of the year at the East Yorkshire track.

This includes the St Leger – the final Classic of 2020 – and won last year by Frankie Dettori on Logician.

Tickets for Doncaster will go on sale on Friday, with the track’s owners Arena Racing Company underlining a new code of conduct will be in place for all attendees along with a number of additional facilities to allow racegoers to maintain social distancing, personal hygiene and other measures.

Mark Spincer, managing director of ARC’s 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.

Champion apprentice Cieren Fallon is teaming up with Qatar Racing.

“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.”

The pilot events only relate to English tracks, with Scottish Racing leading discussions with Scottish Government, while a delegation led by the British Horseracing Authority and ARC has led similar discussions with the Welsh Government for racecourses in Wales.

JULIE Camacho will try to win the William Hill Beverley Bullet for a second consecutive year when Makanah lines up in the £30,000 Listed sprint.

The North Yorkshire trainer claimed the five-furlong dash 12 months ago with the highly-rated Judicial.

But Camacho has this year declared the progressive Makanah, the mount of Paul Mulrennan, who was just denied in a strong handicap at Haydock on his most recent outing on August 3.

Steve Brown, the Norton handler’s husband and assistant, said: “He’s a grand horse and we’ve been very pleased with him this season.

“He’s a progressive sprinter, but we got to the point with him in handicaps where he was carrying top weight all the time.

“With that in mind, we thought it was now the right time to dip our toe into a Listed race with him and the Bullet looked ideal. We always thought he’d be the one who could push Judicial on a bit.”

Judicial had featured amongst the Beverley Bullet confirmations, but Brown added: “Once the rain came, that made up our minds not to run him. He’ll probably go to the Garrowby Stakes at York a week on Sunday.”

The Beverley Bullet has, in previous years, been held on a Saturday and featured on ITV Racing.

However the rejig of the fixture list sees the race staged midweek – hopefully for this year only.

Meanwhile Makanah’s rivals include Bryan Smart’s roup One-winning sprinter Alpha Delphini who took the race in 2016 before landing the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York in 2018.

Bred and owned by Beverley resident Marie Matthews, the horse was well-beaten at York last month after more than a year on the injury sidelines.

Keep Busy is the mount of Jason Hart who remains buoyed by his high-profile York success last weekend with Safe Voyage – he says conditions, and the draw, should suit his filly.

CHAMPION apprentice Cieren Fallon has been appointed as Qatar Racing’s second jockey on a two-year deal basis, behind current champion jockey Oisin Murphy.

Fallon, son of legendary former champion jockey Kieren, landed his first Group One success aboard Oxted in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket last month and rode out his claim last Friday.

David Redvers, racing manager of Qatar Racing, said: “The one-meeting restriction, brought in by the BHA, means we need to expand our team.

“Sheikh Fahad has been watching Cieren from the outset of his career. He has an incredibly calm demeanour for his age, an intuitive riding style and is very level-headed.”

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James Mitchinson