With British racing suspended until the end of April, the sport’s industry leaders have begun working on options for financial support, including developing a submission to the UK government for monetary assistance.
Those involved have been working to understand how employers and businesses in racing can access support from the government package, which was set out by the chancellor Rishi Sunak on Tuesday.
They are also looking at how to help self-employed workers, including jockeys.
The British Horseracing Authority has been liaising with the government on a daily basis and its Chief Executive, Nick Rust, took part in a conference call with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on Wednesday afternoon.
Among those working on the proposals are Rupert Arnold from the NTF, RCA Chief Executive David Armstrong and Charlie Liverton from The Horsemen’s Group and ROA.
The financial submission that is being prepared is taking into account how the shutdown has affected trainers, racecourses, the breeding industry and other aspects of the sport.
In a joint statement, the group said: “We know these are anxious times for everyone in our industry. Whilst everyone is worrying about the health of their families, we now face this huge disruption.
“We know people are worried about their jobs and the survival of their businesses. We are working round-the-clock to present the most powerful case we can to the UK and devolved governments.
“People will have many, many questions as a result of this uncertainty. We cannot answer them all at present and must focus on preparing a case that sets out clearly and careful the issues we face as an industry.
“The need to look after the 14,000 horses in training and the many more who are part of the breeding industry will be central to that case. Their welfare must be maintained. We pride ourselves on the high standards of care for horses in racing and we will not let those drop.
“We would ask all those in racing to keep in touch with the organisations that represent their part of the sport. Questions from employers or employees should be directed through representative bodies, using existing contacts or new ones created where those exist. The BHA and senior executives, supported by the industry COVID19 group, will offer support as appropriate.
“As we present our case, we also know that there will be a point at which racing can return. We want to ensure the industry remains ready to resume whenever that’s possible. That will start money flowing back to the businesses that support us and to the rural economy. We know that’s well understood by government.”
Irish racing to continue without spectators
Racing in Ireland will continue behind closed doors for the foreseeable future after the Horse Racing Ireland board met on Wednesday to discuss the threat of coronavirus to the sport.
However, stricter restrictions have been put in place which include no runners from overseas, medical personnel and facilities to be available for use by the Irish government and no evening or double fixtures.
There will be only one meeting a day, with 30-minute intervals between races to assist social distancing, and no owners will be allowed to attend. Jockeys’ weights will increase two pounds from Friday on both the Flat and National Hunt.
A sub-committee will continue to review the situation on a daily basis while contingency planning for changes to race programming and fixtures is now underway.
Nicky Hartery, Chairman of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “These are unprecedented and sombre times and we are seeking the best ways to support the racing community and industry throughout what lies ahead.
“Health and welfare of employees and industry participants is the prime consideration and within that context, we have introduced protocols which can allow racing to continue and thousands of families who rely on the sector to maintain a livelihood.
“This will be kept under review on a daily basis and we are also planning measures for reprogramming fixtures as it becomes requires. Changes to the programme will be separately announced.
“We have consulted with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine throughout this process and we will continue to strictly adhere to the Government and HSE advice.
“We have made it clear at all time that our medical facilities and personnel will be available for the Government to use if necessary – that will take precedence above any other consideration.”
All clear for Paisley Park
Emma Lavelle’s stable star Paisley Park has been given the green light to return to training after suffering an irregular heartbeat during the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last Thursday.
Beaten comprehensively by Lisnagar Oscar, Paisley Park was sent to Newmarket for additional tests and following their conclusion, he will now wear a heart monitor when exercising.
Lavelle told the Racing Post: “All the tests were clear in Newmarket and he’s come back with a heart monitor set which he’ll wear when he starts back into exercise.
“Ceila Marr [who treated Sprinter Sacre] commented on just how big his heart was and some of the best horses are predisposed to this, making them that good but predisposed to electrical imbalances within their heart.
“Paisley Park rectified everything of his own accord which is very positive and only six per cent of horses have the symptoms reoccur.
“Regardless of him not running again this season it’s still important we run these tests. He will do enough, doing a swinging canter, and as long as he’s fine, we will let him down for the summer.”