Britain on Tuesday joined France, Germany, Italy and Spain in cancelling racing altogether in the midst of coronavirus, its shutdown set to last until the end of April. Today's meetings at Wetherby and Taunton will be the last before the cancellation takes effect.
The British Horseracing Authority had announced on Monday that racing would take place behind closed doors until the end of March, but the picture changed when just hours later Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a tightening of protocols including mass gatherings.
“This is a national emergency the likes of which most of us have never seen before,” said BHA Chief Executive Nick Rust. “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.
“Racing is a family and I know we will pull together over the coming days, weeks and months and support each other. By stopping racing, we can free up medical resources, doctors and ambulances, be they private sector or NHS, to assist in the national effort to fight this virus. And we can support racing industry participants and staff as they face up to the personal challenges ahead and care for their own families.
“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 need to do what we can to support businesses inside and outside racing and the many people whose livelihoods depend upon this £4 billion industry. 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.”