Goodwood racecourse will not open to the public this weekend after the government informed racing’s leaders that Saturday’s test event would be cancelled in light of concerns around the rising coronavirus infection rate in Britain.

The course was due to have 5,000 spectators on track but the meeting will now take place behind closed doors following Boris Johnson’s briefing that revealed a tightening of restrictions for the country.

In a statement, the British Horseracing Authority, Racecourse Association and Goodwood racecourse said: “We are very disappointed for those who were hoping to attend tomorrow’s event and for all those who have worked so hard to make it possible for spectators to be present.

“We will engage with public health authorities and DCMS over a rescheduled pilot at the earliest opportunity.”

David Armstrong, Chief Executive of the RCA, said: “The RCA is very disappointed to learn that the pilot event at Goodwood scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed.

“We understand and respect the issues raised within the Prime Minister’s announcement and have always maintained that public health has been paramount to any event, be it racing resuming behind closed doors or with crowds.

“The work undertaken by the sport, and especially the Goodwood team, to bring the safety protocols to life has been very thorough and detailed. It is worth reiterating there were no concerns with the protocols put in place by the sport and Goodwood racecourse and we wish them the very best for the final days of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, which will take place behind closed doors.”