Pilot events for the return of spectators at racecourses will resume at next month’s St Leger Festival at Doncaster after the Department of Culture, Media and Sport gave the green light for them to go ahead on Wednesday.
The announcement will be welcome news to the sport having prepared for a pilot event on the final day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival earlier this month only for it to be halted the day before due to a rise in coronavirus cases.
Doncaster will not be the only venue to host a pilot event as Warwick’s meeting on September 21 has also been selected along with Newmarket’s Cambridgeshire meeting that runs from September 24-26.
Each pilot event will operate strict protocols prescribed by the Sports Ground Safety Authority and the fixtures have been chosen to provide a detailed case study for other racecourses to follow.
The pilot events do not apply to racetracks in Scotland with Scottish Racing continuing discussions with the Scottish government regarding similar tests. Equally, a delegation led by the BHA and Arena Racing Company have led similar discussions with the Welsh government for tracks in Wales.
David Armstrong, Chief Executive of the RCA, said: “We are pleased to receive the confirmation of our pilot events to welcome back crowds to racecourses and once again thank DCMS for entrusting the sport with this responsibility.
“Racecourses have been working for some time to this end and we are confident the events selected will provide strong case studies which will be of use to all.
“The disappointment of postponing our last confirmed pilot at Goodwood was felt across the sport, but the learnings and the behind-the-scenes work have been of great value to others. Racing is ready to proceed in a safe manner and we are looking forward to once again welcoming crowds back to the racecourse.”