After around 2,500 spectators were admitted on the opening day of Doncaster's St Leger Festival on Wednesday as part of a pilot project for reintroducing fans to sporting events, the remainder of the festival will be behind closed doors with Prime Minister Boris Johnson once again limiting gathers to six people. The directive came from the Doncaster Council. A crowd of about 6,000 had been expected for the G1 St Leger on Saturday.
“We have had confirmation this afternoon from the local authority that we will not be able to admit a crowd to the final three days of the St Leger Festival, Thursday 10 to Saturday 12 September,” said Mark Spincer, managing director of racecourse owner Arena Racing Company's racing division. “The race meeting will continue on a 'behind closed doors' basis, as per all other race meetings currently taking place in Britain.
“This pilot event represents a hugely important step not just for our business but for the whole of British racing as well as the sports and hospitality industries as a whole. We do, of course, fully understand and respect the decision and will be contacting all of our customers booked for the remaining three days as a matter of urgency. We were pleased to work closely with Doncaster Council to set up this pilot event in the manner that we had, but matters beyond anyone's control, and the data regarding local rates that have come to light today, mean we will not be able to welcome a crowd from Thursday onwards.”
Dr. Rupert Suckling, director of public health for Doncaster, said in a statement, “The current rate of infection for the borough currently stands at 10.6 infections per 100,000 people which I have been updated on today and this is an increase due to a range of factors including an increase in testing and a lag in the test results coming in. Therefore on the grounds of public health and public safety, I have instructed the racecourse to hold the St Leger Festival behind closed doors from tomorrow. I appreciate this decision may not be met with universal agreement but it is the safest and most appropriate way to move forward for everyone's best interests in the borough and beyond.”