BHA outlines roadmap for the return of UK racing

The British Horseracing Authority has provided more details on the return of horseracing in the UK.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has outlined the steps it will take to ensure horseracing can return on 1 June.

Yesterday (20 May), the BHA set out several targets it must meet assuming the UK government’s provisional timeline for the return of racing can be met. UK sports have been postponed since 18 March to help halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The BHA said: “This preparatory work will ensure that we can safeguard our people’s health and wellbeing and return to racing in a safe and appropriate manner.”

This news comes after the BHA announced that it was putting together a plan for the return of racing last week.

The Roadmap

According to the roadmap by Friday 22 May, the BHA will aim to publish a fixture list and race programme for the period starting 9 June through to 30 June. The BHA has already set out a schedule for the first eight day starting 1 June. The Authority also noted that 72-hour declarations, in which races may be called off last minute, will be in place until further notice.

The next milestone set by the BHA is the publishing of protocols for racing behind closed doors, which should be published no later than 26 May. These protocols will outline how the health and safety of employees and participants will be safeguarded.

Although the return to racing will depend on the guidelines, the NHA has said that several actions can be taken by the industry to prepare for the target date.

All stable employee records, for anyone who is likely to attend a racing fixture, and all horse vaccination records must be fully up to date.  In addition to this, those in attendance will be required to go through a health screening, likely to consist of a weekly questionnaire, followed by an on-course test.

All industry participants must also complete an online education module which covers social distancing, racecourse protocol, hygiene, and the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE). Any individual that fails to complete the online modules will not be allowed to access a racecourse.

Discussions about what PPE will be required for jockeys, stable staff and attendees are still on going.

All racing industry stakeholders were also advised to get familiar with guidance from the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments.

New system to select horses

The final point covered in the BHA’s roadmap is the implementation of a new system to select horses to run at the 2020 Royal Ascot festival. The BHA has taken the step of allowing trainers to choose specific horses they want to see prioritized and the festival.

According to the BHA announcement, 700 two-year-old horses would have performed in racing events by now. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic approximately half of that number were likely to compete before Ascot.

The number of horses each trainer can put forward will be based on their previous record with two-year-old horses  in Open Maiden or Novice races, as well as the number of runners they had at the festival over the past three years.

In theory, this will allow for 126 nominations across 50 trainers and a further 225 placed will be available in the eight days following the return of racing.

If a trainer does not qualify to make a selection, they will be given one selection each. All selections must be made by 26 May and the full list of horses will be published the following day.

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