All racing in Britain will be suspended from Wednesday until the end of April due to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
The British Horseracing Authority announced the decision on Tuesday after taking into account government advice and consulting industry stakeholders.
It follows Monday’s statement from Jockey Club Racecourses explaining that this year’s Randox Health Grand National meeting has been cancelled.
Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA, said: “This is a national emergency the like of which most of us have never seen before. We’re a sport that is proud of its connection to rural communities and to the local businesses that support our industry.
“But our first duty is to the health of the public, our customers and to racing industry participants and staff so we have decided to suspend racing following the government’s latest advice.
“Racing is a family and I know we will pull together over the coming days, weeks and months and support each other. By stopping racing, we can free up medical resources, doctors and ambulances, be they private sector or NHS, to assist in the national effort to fight this virus.
“And we can support racing industry participants and staff as they face up to the personal challenges ahead and care for their own families.
“There will be difficult months ahead for many of us. We need to focus now on ensuring that we can continue to look after our horses as the virus affects the thousands of participants and staff who dedicate their lives to caring for animals.
“We need to do what we can to support businesses inside and outside racing and the many people whose livelihoods depend upon £4 billion industry.
“We are in constant contact with government which understands the very significant consequences of this decision for jobs and businesses. We will work with them to do our best to manage the impact.
“Racing leaders will keep today’s decision under constant review and endeavour to keep all customers, participants, staff and dependent businesses informed as the situation progresses.”
Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the ROA added: “Public health and safety is of primary importance. I know that the owner community which we represent backs the efforts to maintain public health and safety both within and beyond racing.
I ask that people continue to exercise common sense and good judgement as we continue to protect the well-being of people in our industry.”