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Coronavirus protection advice issued to racegoers planning to attend Cheltenham festival

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While the organisers of the Cheltenham Festival, which draws as many as 15,000 visitors from Ireland, have so far said the meeting is due to go ahead next month, there are concerns that high-profile sporting events could become casualties of the epidemic.

While the organisers of the Cheltenham Festival, which draws as many as 15,000 visitors from Ireland, have so far said the meeting is due to go ahead next month, there are concerns that high-profile sporting events could become casualties of the epidemic.

While the organisers of the Cheltenham Festival, which draws as many as 15,000 visitors from Ireland, have so far said the meeting is due to go ahead next month, there are concerns that high-profile sporting events could become casualties of the epidemic.

Racegoers are being urged to stay away from next week's Cheltenham Festival if they are experiencing symptoms associated with coronavirus, have travelled through high-risk countries or been in contact with anyone who has.

A public health notice has been added to the track's latest update on the British Horseracing Authority's administration site.

It reads: "Do not travel to the Festival if: - You have any of the following symptoms - a cough, a high temperature or shortness of breath AND - You have been to or transited through the high-risk countries, or been in contact with anyone that has, in the last 14 days.

"To protect yourself and others please do not travel and call NHS 111 (GB) or HSE 112 (Republic of Ireland) for expert advice.

"These measures are being taken in order for us to safeguard everyone's health and well-being during the current public health situation.

"Thank you for your understanding. For more details, please visit gov.uk/coronavirus."

The Betfair market surrounding the possibility of the Festival's cancellation has attracted plenty of attention in recent days, with £2.4 million traded, but the fixture remains odds-on to go ahead at 1.38 (4-11).

However, the firm has also opened a market on the likelihood of next month's Grand National taking place, with a small amount traded so far, just under £4,000 at 11.10am, favouring the meeting being called off.

Betfair spokesman Barry Orr said: "The odds on Cheltenham seem to have stabilised at around 2-5, which is encouraging, but since we went up with the Aintree market it's been odds-on not to take place - and the ramifications that could have for the racing world are wide-reaching."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has played down the prospect of cancelling "large events".

Speaking at the British Chambers of Commerce conference in London, Hancock said: "The science on large events is that now there is no material clinical benefit, epidemiological benefit, to cancelling events, so long as people undertake the public health measures that I'm sure you all have heard of - wash your hands and, if you have a cough or sneeze, catch it."

Further afield, Meydan's Super Saturday meeting this weekend will be run in front of only connections, sponsors and media, the Emirates Racing Authority has announced.

The card, which is the second most important staged in Dubai behind only World Cup night, will take place without spectators as part of measures relating to coronavirus.

Friday's meeting at Jebel Ali and Sunday's card at Abu Dhabi will also be without racegoers.

Online Editors