British racing launches $39m Covid-19 aid package
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) announced a £22 million (S$39 million) aid package last Friday in response to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
All racing in Britain was suspended on March 17, following the spread of Covid-19, with the shutdown made "indefinite" last Wednesday as a hoped-for resumption on April 30 was ruled out.
The funding package will see the Professional Jockeys' Association, many of whose members are self-employed and may not qualify for British government assistance, given £2 million for grants and loans.
Funds will also be made available to training yards and stable staff and for horse welfare.
Meanwhile, racecourses will have access to loan facilities intended to keep tracks going until racing restarts.
The BHA said a resumption would "most likely be behind closed doors, with significantly reduced revenues".
"This package of self-help funding offers some initial relief to the hard-working people, horses and businesses on whom racing relies," added BHA chief executive Nick Rust.
"We know this does not solve the acute problems the industry is facing but it will provide much needed short-term assistance."
The BHA was heavily criticised for allowing last month's four-day Cheltenham Festival jumps meeting, which attracted more than 250,000 spectators, to go ahead amid criticism that such a large gathering may have led to coronavirus infections. - AFP