Matt Hancock, the government’s health secretary, defended the government’s decision to stage last month’s Cheltenham Festival in an appearance on a phone-in at LBC Radio on Tuesday.
Hancock, who represents Welk Suffolk constituency which Newmarket falls into, was questioned by a resident from Cheltenham if the four-day meeting should have been staged and whether he would commit to a review in the future of the scientific evidence.
He said: “There will be time for a review of [the science], won’t there? And I have absolutely no doubt the sort of review called for will happen, and quite rightly as we need to learn in case there are future pandemics like this.
“We followed the scientific advice and we were guided by that science. Broadly, I think we took the right measures at the right time.
“We were ahead of many other countries in Europe in terms of when we took the measure and that’s what you’ve got to do in these circumstances, acting with imperfect information as we are all the way through it and learning.”
Property Race Day cancelled
Ascot’s Property Race Day which was due to be held at the Berkshire track in July will not be staged this year owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
The event, which first began in 2006, raises around £250,000 for charities working with disadvantaged stage with this year’s selected charities meant to be Land Aid, WellChild, Trusts for African Schools, Dusty Yak and Chernobyl Children in Need.
However, the meeting is still set to go ahead in July but organisers made the decision that holding the charity event would not be possible.
Irish Guineas could be rescheduled
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, has voiced concerns that the staging of this year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas could be rescheduled if the Irish governments extends its coronavirus lockdown.
Ireland’s lockdown is currently meant to end on May 4 but the Irish Independent reported on Monday that it may not be lifted at all or only eased slightly.
Kavanagh, speaking to the Racing Post in response to whether the lockdown could lead to rescheduling of Ireland’s first Classics, said: “It could. I think if we came back soon after May 4 we could continue with that schedule, but after that there would come a point where a decision would have to be made about whether to reschedule them.
“It is one of the matters the HRI board discussed today [Monday] without making any firm call on it. Our director of racing Jason Morris has a number of contingencies draw up, but until we have some sort of certainty, it is impossible to speculate. But obviously the sooner we get back the better as it limits the damage and enables the thread to be taken up more easily.
“Our position on Covid-19 remains the same. We are waiting to hear from the government, and we have advanced our thinking and advanced our protocols, which we think have improved on a daily basis in consultation with our chief medical officer Jennifer Pugh. We’re also watching with interest developments in places like Australia and Hong Kong.
“We have said to the government that we are ready to race when you say it is safe and appropriate to do so, and we will race behind closed doors for as long as your regulations on mass gatherings remain in place.”