The prospect of racing returning in Britain in the near future looks unlikely after the British Horseracing Authority announced on Wednesday it is to extend the suspension of the sport indefinitely.

With the current coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, no date has been set by the governing body to end the suspension, which was put in place last month following the government’s lockdown measures.

The BHA, along with trainers, racecourses and other participants, have been working to develop a phased plan for resumption that would allow the sport to transition back to the normal fixture list later in the year.

In a statement, the BHA said: “Our plans continue to allow for a resumption in May, if that is possible. We assume it would be behind closed doors only, at a point when safety of participants can be assured and the pressure on the health service allows. Tough biosecurity measures would be in place to keep any risks to a minimum.

“Because of the very strong likelihood that restrictions on mass gatherings will continue, the BHA has decided that racing with crowds will not be possible until June at the earliest. Where there is greater clarity about the duration for which restrictions on crowds will apply, the BHA will communicate this to the sport, customers and to fans.”

Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA, added: “We stopped racing in March to protect the health and safety of the public and to limit demands on the NHS. It’s right to continue this suspension until the pressure on the NHS allows for a resumption and we can assure the safety of those taking part.

“We are in touch with government as part of our development of a responsible, coordinated plan for the return of sport when it’s appropriate to do so.

“We’ll continue to develop a range of options drawing on the expertise of our participants and racecourses. But for now, we are all focused on supporting the national effort, maintaining social distancing restrictions and taking care of our people and our horses.”