The final three days of the St Leger meeting at Doncaster will be held behind closed doors after the council intervened to halt the pilot test event due to a rise in the coronavirus infection rate in the local area.

Despite having a crowd in attendance on Wednesday, when social distancing measures were followed, the announcement came from Doncaster Council’s Director of Public Health Dr Rupert Suckling on Wednesday afternoon.

Suckling said: “The current rate of infection for the borough currently stands at 10.6 infections per 100,000 people which I have been updated on today and this is an increase due to a large range of factors, including an increase in testing and a lag in the test results coming in.

“Therefore, on the grounds of public health and public safety, I have instructed the racecourse to hold the St Leger Festival behind closed doors from tomorrow.

“The day’s racing will continue today as it is safer to manage racegoers on site and with enhanced test and trace, it will be easier to identify where they are from rather than closing the event today and leaving people to gather their own devices in Doncaster and the borough generally.

“I appreciate this decision may not be met with universal agreement, but it is the safest and most appropriate way to move forward for everyone’s best interests in the borough and beyond.”

Arena Racing’s Mark Spincer added: “We have had confirmation this afternoon from the local authority that we will not be able to admit a crowd to the final three days of the St Leger Festival. The race meeting will continue on a behind closed doors basis, as per all other race meetings currently taking place in Britain.

“This pilot event represents a hugely important step not just for our business but for the whole of British racing as well as the sports and hospitality industries as a whole. We do, of course, fully understand and respect the decision and will be contacting all of our customers booked for the remaining three days as a matter of urgency.

“We were pleased to work closely with Doncaster Council to set up this pilot event in the manner that we had but matters beyond anyone’s control, and the data regarding local rates that have come to light today, mean we will not be able to welcome a crowd from Thursday onwards.

“We would, of course, like to thank all of our customers for their support in the run up to this event as well as our staff who have done a monumental job in preparing the site.”

Racing has a number of other pilot test events scheduled for the coming weeks that have been thrown into doubt with news emerging late on Tuesday evening that restrictions around gatherings were due to be changed by the government.