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British Horseracing Authority to move meetings 'behind closed doors later in the week'

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Burining Victory and Paul Townend on the way to victory at Cheltenham last week

Burining Victory and Paul Townend on the way to victory at Cheltenham last week

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Burining Victory and Paul Townend on the way to victory at Cheltenham last week

Racing in Britain is set to move behind closed doors later in the week, initially until the end of March, the British Horseracing Authority has announced.

The Cheltenham Festival took place as scheduled last week, but fixtures in Ireland were closed to the public from Friday evening and it is a similar situation in Scotland, following guidance from the Irish and Scottish governments regarding the banning of mass gatherings with over 500 people.

A statement issued by the BHA read: "Racing industry leaders are preparing to hold race meetings without spectators and to ensure that the competitors and participants attending only do so under strict conditions.

"The sport's tripartite leadership, including racecourses, participants and the governing body, the British Horseracing Authority, will tomorrow discuss an approach recommended by the industry's COVID 19 group.

"It is likely to mean that racing moves behind closed doors later in the week, initially until the end of March. Racing's fixture list will also be considered.

"With race meetings due to happen every day, the intention is to agree a programme that is sustainable in the light of possible staff absences, including in critical roles, which protects industry staff and supports the wider effort to free up critical public services."

Aintree's three-day Grand National meeting is due to take place on April 2-4.

The statement added: "The BHA has been closely following official guidance on public health. Details of contingency plans have been shared with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

"Racing has continued to observe the Government's request for a proportionate response that takes into account public health and the impact on jobs and businesses.

"The UK Government has also been briefed on the issues involved in staging the Randox Health Grand National. A decision will be announced as soon as possible."

Online Editors