Hollie Doyle raises fears for racing’s future due to extended lockdown restrictions

Top jockey Hollie Doyle is concerned for the future of racing if coronavirus restrictions persist well into the New Year and said: “I don’t know how much more it can take.”

Hollie Doyle recorded her 150th winner of 2020 when scoring on Darwell Lion at Lingfield.

She was speaking on the day she secured her landmark 150th winner of 2020 aboard Darwell Lion at Lingfield – further reason to celebrate her third-place finish in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year poll on Sunday.

Doyle, 24, originally hails from Herefordshire, one of the few parts of England in Tier 1 under the Government’s regionalised system to combat the spread of Covid-19 and where up to 4,000 people are able to attend outdoor sporting events.

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However, the decision to move large parts of southern and eastern England into Tier 4 amid concerns over a new, potentially more transmissible strain of the virus raises the prospect of many more months of racecourses in the highest-risk areas operating behind closed doors.

Hollie Doyle was third to Lewis Hamilton and Jordan Henderson at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Doyle is impressed by the resilience her sport has shown to date during the pandemic, but admits extended lockdown restrictions are a real worry.

“There’s a huge ‘food chain’ (around racing) and it’s very stretched,” she said. “I don’t know how much more it can take, but obviously everyone’s doing all they can to keep the sport up and running.

“It’s going to be hard isn’t it? We can continue to race, we’ve proven we can adapt and keep the show on the road like we did early on while everyone was in lockdown, and keep racing. But obviously the longer we have no crowds and the owners aren’t able to go racing, it is going to become increasingly difficult to sustain.”

Doyle’s remarks preceded Horse Racing Ireland’s announcement that no Irish-trained horses or jockeys will be allowed to compete in Britain until December 31 in light of the Irish Government ban on UK travel.

In addition, no UK-based horses will be allowed to run in Ireland during that time.

The news is a blow to trainer Henry de Bromhead who intended to run Monalee in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day and Put The Kettle On against Altior in the Desert Orchid Chase a day later.

Randox has agreed a five-year extension to its sponsorship of the Grand National meeting at Aintree. The new agreement starts on 2022 and follows on from an initial five-year deal.

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