British racing plans for June 1 return

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is planning to resume the season on June 1, after the government released guidelines on Monday laying out the steps for easing Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The BHA had hoped to restart the season by staging races without fans this month. But it has 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.

It said in a statement that the Resumption of Racing Group will meet and ensure that race planning and the provisional fixture programme, including the scheduling of the Classics and other flagship races, meet the new government timeline.

"Racing has already drawn up plans for resumption based on minimising risk for participants through robust social distancing and strict infection control measures," it added

The government was widely criticised for allowing the four-day Cheltenham racing festival to go ahead in March, shortly before the country went into lockdown, with hundreds of thousands of spectators in attendance.

The Grand National, Britain's most iconic horse race, was cancelled in March due to the pandemic, while Ascot Racecourse said next month's Royal Ascot would be held without spectators.

Horse racing resumed in Germany last week with a limited number of races. It returned in France on Monday with races at Longchamp in Paris and two other tracks. No fans were at both events.

In the US, California health officials have given the OK to the Santa Anita race track to resume horse racing tomorrow (Singapore time) with new safety measures in place.

The Los Angeles race track halted horse racing on March 27. Los Angeles County health officials gave permission for the track to reopen but without spectators. - REUTERS, AFP