On Monday the racing industry’s COVID-19 Group published its operational plan, which sets out the work it is currently undertaking to combat the challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic.

Five key streams of work – finance, people, equine health and welfare, resumption and recovery – have all been identified as well as a number of key operational objectives that were published in a document on the British Horseracing Authority’s website on Monday.

The operational objectives are:

  • To coordinate racing’s response to COVID-19, producing a coherent plan which maintains the industry, its businesses and people, in the best shape to resume and recover strongly;
  • To ensure that racing maximises government financial support and uses this or industry funds effectively to mitigate the financial impact on businesses and individuals;
  • To support those working in racing and manage the public health risk;
  • To look after the health and welfare of our horses;
  • To plan for a resumption at the earliest possible opportunity;
  • To lead accurate and timely engagement with audiences inside and outside the sport.

In the finance workstream, a number of areas will be looked at including identifying areas where racing seeks specific help from government, identifying the resources and reserves within the sport or available to the sport, and building appropriate criteria for responding to needs so money can be distributed fairly and quickly.

The people workstream will place an emphasis on several aspects such as “to look after people who work in racing in whatever capacity and provide additional support to that offered by employers to mitigate the impact of the crisis on their personal lives”.

“The Industry Group is working hard to meet the needs of the racing industry in this period of great uncertainty”

During this period, equine health and welfare remains paramount. This stream in the operational plan says it “exists to protect the welfare of horses, identify related needs as they emerge and ensure appropriate resources are available. Engagement with other equestrian bodies will avoid duplication of effort and provide a strong and collective voice when dealing with DEFRA.”

Those dedicating their time to the resumption of racing workstream are focusing on the conditions that would need to be met in order to ensure that racing can restart at the earliest opportunity.

Ruth Quinn from the BHA, along with a sub-group of the Flat Pattern Committee, will lead a separate but related piece of work on the Pattern one racing has resumed.

Currently, recovery is a proposed workstream at present, but the industry group is giving consideration to the tasks and areas of work that are likely to be required.

The plan says: “Financial discussions are already considering the potential implications of a longer shutdown, if that is required by government measures, and ensuring that sufficient resource is set aside.

“There has already been a huge collaborative effort”

“There were many industry projects that were underway or in the pipeline prior to the lockdown. Consideration is being to which of these should be continued or even accelerated.

“Some projects may contribute to a speedy return to racing. Some may make the sport more efficient and effective and aid its recovery.”

The operational plan has been developed by the industry group which includes the Chief Executives of the BHA, RCA, National Trainers Federation, Racehorse Owners Association and the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association. It has also had input from the chief executives of other industry organisations such as the Levy Board, Racing Foundation and Racing Welfare.

Speaking on behalf of the group, a spokesman said: “The Industry Group is working hard to meet the needs of the racing industry in this period of great uncertainty. There has already been a huge collaborative effort, and this will continue as we move to a point which we can resume racing.

“We are publishing the plan so that the industry’s stakeholders and participants can see the extensive programme of work that is underway. We believe this will help avoid duplication and use resources in the best possible way. We will continue to give updates at regular intervals.”

The operational plan is available to view in full here: http://media.britishhorseracing.com/bha/covid19/Operational_Plan.pdf