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Field sizes set to be restricted to 12 runners when racing resumes in Britain


Horse races in Britain will have a limited number of runners when it resumes. (stock photo)

Horse races in Britain will have a limited number of runners when it resumes. (stock photo)

Getty Images

Horse races in Britain will have a limited number of runners when it resumes. (stock photo)

Field sizes will be restricted to 12 runners per race with only senior jockeys allowed to participate in the latest British Horseracing Authority (BHA) plans for the resumption of racing.

With an unspecified date for the return of racing in Britain due to the Coronavirus crisis, the BHA are designing plans to adhere to strict government guidelines and get the green light to restart as soon as is deemed safe.

The use of hub racecourses – including the likes of Newmarket, Lingfield and Newcastle – has been mooted where the jockeys, stable staff and officials needed to run a race meeting could stay close by or onsite in hotels.

In correspondence sent out to British trainers in recent days, the BHA laid out their suggestions and acknowledged that these proposals may place some particular restrictions on lower-grade horses.

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"Risk modelling indicates that field sizes of 12 or fewer reduces the risk to participants on the track and assists with social distancing requirements at the racecourse," the BHA letter to trainers read.

"We have taken in a similar risk mitigation approach in relation to jockeys. Consequently, only the more senior jockeys will be able to ride under initial plans. This will be reviewed continually.

"We recognise field-size restrictions will increase competition for places, so we plan to extend the number of races on a card, including by staging more divisions.

"Even though we intend to provide a balanced programme, it is likely that due to competition for places, some horses, particularly those that are lower rated, may find it difficult to get a run in the early stages of resumption."

Early stages of a return for British racing looks set to be behind closed doors while racing without spectators is set to restart in Germany and France from early next month, with Ireland also running a similar system whenever things back into gear again.

A "best-case scenario" in Britain would see the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket take place in early June, the Oaks and Derby at Epsom in early July with key trial races to be run in the second half of May.

Online Editors