Racing in doubt
Musselburgh may stage key meeting without racegoers
Fans may be excluded from the East Lothian course (pic: Terry Murden)
Musselburgh Racecourse is in talks with the sport’s authorities and the Scottish Government about following Kelso’s decision to stage its next meeting behind closed doors.
The East Lothian course is scheduled to stage the Racing Post Go North meeting on Friday 20 March, but the Scottish Government announced that events of more than 500 people should not take place in light of the Coronavirus outbreak.
It is possible Musselburgh will follow Kelso Racecourse’s lead which has opted to stage its meeting on Monday without any race-goers.
Musselburgh is consulting with the British Horseracing Authority and other relevant stakeholders to establish how it can continue to support the racing industry in a manner which would not be contrary to the Scottish Government ruling.
Musselburgh general manager, Bill Farnsworth, said: “We will follow the guidelines issued by the Scottish Government and explore all options available to us to establish if we can continue racing during this exceptional time.
“The Racing Post Go North meeting has more than £160,000 in prize money and is a very important fixture for Scottish trainers and stables across the north of England.
“The racing industry, the owners, trainers and stable staff, need all the support they can get and its incumbent on us to continue racing if possible, which helps maintain jobs and incomes.”
It is hoped other fixtures scheduled for Tuesday 31 March and on Easter Saturday will go ahead, but the racecourse will review the situation on a regular basis and strictly follow all Government and NHS advice on best practice on containing the virus.
“In the weeks leading up to future meetings we will review the situation on a daily basis, always following expert advice on how we can play our part in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
“We will provide regular updates our website and social media channels, to advise racegoers, owners and trainers on and potential changes to our scheduled race meetings.”
The Cheltenham Festival this week was the last big sporting event to be held in the UK before the ban comes into effect across a range of sports until 3 April.
Aintree organisers are hopeful that the Grand National might yet go ahead with a 70,000 crowd on 4 April.