BHA confident of June 1 return to racing

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is confident racing will resume on June 1, after it was suspended in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, its chief regulatory officer has said.

The BHA had hoped to restart the season by staging races without fans this month but had to push that back, after the government's roadmap for easing restrictions on elite sport said steps would be taken no earlier than June 1.

The government has issued new guidance on the next step for athletes to resume close-contact training but Brant Dunshea said these were protocols for contact sports and did not apply to horse racing.

"We can't control what decisions (the) government make, but we're incredibly confident and we're working hard and planning towards June 1 being our resumption date," Dunshea told Racing TV.

"All the way through this process in our engagement with government, it has been recognised that we're different to the other sports that are being referred to.

"We are largely a rural-based sport... Both our training and racing environments are outdoor and pose lower level of risk and position us as a very different sport to football and rugby, for example."

The BHA on Saturday issued guidelines for the resumption of racing behind closed doors on June 1-2 at Newcastle to minimise the risk of spreading the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 37,000 people in the United Kingdom.

The Grand National, Britain's most iconic horse race, was cancelled in March due to the pandemic, while this year's Royal Ascot - from June 16-20 - is set be held without spectators. - REUTERS