Government gives green light for horse racing to return behind closed doors

Racing will resume behind closed doors at Newcastle on Monday after the Government gave its permission for competitive sport in Britain to restart from June 1.

Newcastle will host the first British racing meeting since March 17. Picture: Getty Images

The 'stage three' guidance for elite and professional sport, published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on Saturday, outlines the facilities and processes that will need to be in place for sport to be safely staged following the coronavirus pandemic.

The guidance has been developed in close consultation with the Deputy Chief Medical Officers of England, Public Health England and medical representatives across sport, including the British Horseracing Authority.

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Racing's rulers have been working towards June 1 as a start date for some time and published a 33-page protocol document last weekend. Newcastle will mark the first British meeting since Wetherby and Taunton raced on March 17.

In what will be a high-profile return, the 2000 and 1000 Guineas will be run at Newmarket on June 6 and 7 respectively, forming the highlights of a four-day fixture at Headquarters.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: "The wait is over. Live British sport will shortly be back on in safe and carefully controlled environments.

"This guidance provides the safe framework for sports to resume competitions behind closed doors. It is now up to individual sports to confirm they can meet these protocols and decide when it's right for them to restart.

"This is a significant moment for British sport. By working with clinicians every step of the way, we are creating the safest possible environments for everyone involved."

Newcastle's opening meeting will be a 10-race card, beginning at 1.00pm, with the last event at 6.15pm. All races will be restricted to 12 runners.

The BHA said in a tweet: "Horseracing is confirmed as one of the first sports to resume, beginning with a fixture behind closed doors @NewcastleRaces on Monday 1 June. It will be great to be back."

Signalling its delight, the National Trainers Federation tweeted: "Brilliant news for all in British horseracing - our sport returns on Monday @NewcastleRaces. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this outcome @BHAPressOffice @DCMS. Thanks to all @RacehorseOwners who have stood by trainers."

Both Newcastle and Kempton will race on June 2, followed by Kempton and Yarmouth on June 3 and Newcastle and Newmarket on June 4.

Lingfield and Newmarket feature on June 5, with those tracks also in action on June 6 together with Newcastle. Haydock and Lingfield join Newmarket on June 7, while Chelmsford, Haydock and Lingfield take centre stage on June 8.

Newmarket's Friday card will be headlined by the Coronation Cup, which has been moved from Epsom, plus the Paradise Stakes and Abernant Stakes. Lingfield hosts its Derby and Oaks trials that day.

Royal Ascot remains in its traditional spot in the calendar this year, beginning on June 16. The Derby and Oaks have been pencilled in for July 4.

Report by PA.

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