The British Horseracing Authority has agreed an emergency financial plan that will see it save £1 million per month while racing remains in lockdown.
Under the plan, 80% of BHA staff will be stood down from work using the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, with organisations GBR and GBRI also affected.
Those who remain working for the BHA will have their salaries reduced, as will the BHA Board, and a programme of costs savings linked to reduction in the support and administering of racing will also be undertaken.
The BHA also announced earlier this week that a number of projects have been put on hold and entry fees have been refunded or dropped where possible.
BHA Chair Annamarie Phelps said: “Our Board considered a range of options for how to maintain the most appropriate team that would allow us to carry out our role in the industry’s crisis response.
“That includes the urgent financial work we are doing alongside industry colleagues, engaging effectively with government and making sure we have the right plan and the right resources in place to start racing again when we can.
“In particular, whilst the current suspension is to the end of April, we will ensure that racing is ready to resume from May 1 onwards, if it proves possible to do so.
“The Board (which includes appointed members from the racecourses, owners and licensed personnel alongside independent directors) was briefed on the impact of this crisis across the whole industry and took this into account in its decision-making. We were unanimous that the package of options agreed was the right way forward at this time.
“My message to all our staff is that I’m incredibly proud of the work you have been doing to support the industry. It will be a blow, I know, to those standing down from next week and unable to work.
“You want to be doing your best, as ever, for the sport you love. I hope you will look after yourself and your families and be ready to come back to work when that is possible. For those who will continue to work, I know you will keep giving all you can to get us through this crisis.”
Resumption of racing workstream
BHA Chief Regulatory Officer Brant Dunshea will head a Resumption of Racing group whose focus will be to ensure the necessary requirements are met for racing to be able to take place at the earliest opportunity.
Considerations include operational planning on the racecourse, the ability of horsemen to service fixtures, the scheduling and rescheduling of appropriate fixtures and races, and the need to ensure that regulatory requirements are satisfied so racing can take place safely.
A statement read: “We are already anticipating that the initial return to racing is likely to be phased and almost certainly behind closed doors. This reflects the likelihood that any easing of the Covid-19 situation, and any associated restrictions and pressures on medical services, will also happen progressively.
“With that in mind, we also expect any return to racing to begin, at least initially, with Flat racing, principally for reasons of safety and to minimise demands on emergency services.”
ITV to broadcast virtual Grand National
With no Randox Health Grand National this year because of the coronavirus outbreak, ITV Racing will fill the gap by staging its Virtual Grand National live on ITV on April 4 at 5pm.
Using algorithms and CGI animation to run the race, the simulation has been designed to recreate the test of Aintree’s showpiece and has been broadcast on ITV4 in recent years.
The field will consist of the 40 most likely runners who were intended to run in this year’s race and the programme will be hosted by Nick Luck alongside guests Richard Pitman and Alice Plunkett.
Executive Producer Rob McLoughlin said: “We use the latest CGI technology and algorithms and were ready to go ahead as a forerunner to the big race, but now we want to cheer the nation up and ask the computer if history could have been made.
“It’s very sad not to have the real race but this is fascinating and fun and, as proven since 2017, incredibly accurate.”
Tiz The Law chases Florida Derby
Following his easy success in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream last month, Tiz The Law returns to the Florida track today as he chases glory in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.
The three-year-old, who is from the first crop of WinStar Farm resident Constitution, was unbeaten as a juvenile and capped his debut season with a four-length success in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont in October.
Tiz The Law will face 11 rivals including Ete Indien, who he beat in February, and the Todd Pletcher-trained Gouverneur Morris, who was last seen winning at Tampa Bay Downs.