Trainer Karl Burke hoping to see light at the end of the tunnel

NORTH Yorkshire trainer Karl Burke is keeping his horses ticking over until there’s clarity on any possible resumption of racing.

Horses on the gallops at Middleham earlier this month.

Burke – who enjoyed multiple Group One success with the now retired Laurens – continues to keep his string in light training.

But he is also sympathetic of the difficulties facing the sport and country.

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Horses being exercised at Middleham last week.

“We’re following all the protocols at the minute, and it’s working well,” said the Leyburn trainer. “About 95 per cent of staff have been in full time – we’ve had a couple with coughs that have self-isolated.

“You’ve still got to exercise the horses – you can’t just leave them. It’s a dreadful time of year for it to happen, and it’s very frustrating.

“Like most trainers, selfishly we’re thinking what we’re missing. But everybody is in the same boat – it’s not as if Middleham is closed down and everywhere else is open or vice versa – (so) you’ve just got to get on with it.

“Hopefully, there’s some improvement in the next couple of weeks and there’s a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Whether that be May 1 or June 1, we’d just like a date to aim to.

Trainer Karl Burke.

“Race planning for the Flat season must be a nightmare. The latest race calendar has come through, and the first day on that was May 1, so I suppose at the moment they are gearing up for that.

“The next two weeks are going to be vitally important, not from a racing perspective but the whole country.”

Burke was hoping to run the promising Lord Of The Lodge next month before a crack at the 2000 Guineas at the beginning of May.

Yet, for now, racing is in abeyance until the end of April at the earliest.

Last week the British Horseracing Authority put in place measures to cut its budget by £1m a month during the shutdown.

Burke added: “For the last 10 days, we haven’t galloped any horses, but they’ve all cantered –and that is why we need some sort of clarity. If we are going to be racing in May, they need to be working from next week onwards.

“Lord Of The Lodge is in great form, as are the rest of the string, but I’m trying not to think about what we are missing out on.

“If we can get them in good form and keep them healthy, we’ll be in a good position whenever we do get to go.

“I’m nearly 57 now and I’ve always been told whenever the sun shone at this time of year that would be the viruses gone. Apparently, not this one.”