British horse racing suspended until the end of April
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that all horse racing in Great Britain will be suspended until the end of April in response to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
The suspension will come into effect from tomorrow (18 March), with meetings behind closed doors at Wetherby and Taunton to go ahead today as scheduled.
Yesterday, the BHA said that all racing would move behind closed doors without spectators in attendance. However, last night it was revealed last night that the Grand National showpiece event had been cancelled as a result of the outbreak, and the BHA has now extended this approach to all meetings to the end of April.
The BHA said it has taken the decision halt all racing after the UK government yesterday urged people to avoid social contact and stop all non-essential travel, and also announced that the emergency services would be withdrawn from supporting mass gatherings from 17 March.
The BHA added that it also consulted with senior industry leaders and medical advisers to the organisation and the Racecourse Association before making the decision to suspend racing events.
“This is a national emergency the like of which most of us have never seen before,” BHA chief executive Nick Rust said. “We’re a sport that is proud of its connection to rural communities and to the local businesses that support our industry.
“But our first duty is to the health of the public, our customers and to racing industry participants and staff so we have decided to suspend racing following the government’s latest advice.
“There will be difficult months ahead for many of us. We need to focus now on ensuring that we can continue to look after our horses as the virus affects the thousands of participants and staff who dedicate their lives to caring for animals.
“We are in constant contact with government which understands the very significant consequences of this decision for jobs and businesses. We will work with them to do our best to manage the impact.
“Racing leaders will keep today’s decision under constant review and endeavour to keep all customers, participants, staff and dependent businesses informed as the situation progresses.”