Owners will be able to start attending race meetings in a safe and risk-managed way in the UK on July 4, under plans agreed by the Racecourse Assocation (RCA), Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the BHA announced on Monday. There will be two test fixtures-July 1 at Southwell and Kempton Park-to pilot protocols and allow for a thorough review of the processes in place to facilitate a smooth implementation, with guidelines to help owners adjust to new protocols and procedures available here. Owners will be notified directly via email about how to register for test events once their horse is declared to run. The protocols only apply to racecourses in England, and not all racecourses will be able to accommodate owners immediately.
The following measures will apply to all race meetings able to facilitate the return of owners until further notice:
- A maximum of two owners (or representatives) per horse can attend for their race(s) only.
- Pre-registration ahead of all race meetings using the RCA's Privilege Access Swipe System (PASS) and only confirmed attendees will be granted access to the racecourse. Owners will be emailed automatically with details on how to register once their horse is declared to run.
- A health screening process, which includes the BHA's COVID-19 online learning module and a personally administered health assessment in advance of raceday, followed by health questions and a temperature check upon arrival.
- Owners to arrive no earlier than 45 minutes before their first horse is due to run and leave the racecourse within one hour following the final race in which they have a confirmed runner.
- Dedicated 'owner zones', which will separate owners from raceday workers (trainers, stable staff, jockeys, officials, media etc.) for infection control purposes. No movement will be permitted between the two areas.
These temporary measures will be eased gradually subject to government guidance, and are in line with British racing's protocols for behind closed doors racing. They are approved by the UK government and underpinned by specific government guidance around the return of elite domestic sporting competition behind closed doors.
“As with our wider approach to resumption, the return of owners is predicated on a phased, risk-managed plan, which establishes infection control protocols that are essential for the safe continuation of racing during the ongoing COVID-19 situation,” said BHA Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Jerry Hill. “These include pre-entry screening for owners and segregated areas to facilitate social distancing at no closer than two metres–measures that prioritise the safety of our attendees, are consistent with government guidance for elite sports fixtures behind closed doors, and are supported by the UK Government.”
Added RCA Chief Executive David Armstrong, “We are delighted to be able to welcome back owners to the racecourse, albeit in limited numbers for now. Owners are critical to our sport and their patience and support during lockdown has been vital. The special measures that are set out in the new protocols should enable owners to enjoy the racing experience again but to do so in a safe and responsible fashion.”
“It's great to have owners back on the course and I'd like to thank the BHA, the racecourses and the team at the ROA for their hard work since the resumption of racing to put in place protocols for owners to attend,” said ROA Chief Executive Charlie Liverton. “Owners contribute so much to this sport and it has been frustrating not to be on the track to see their horses run. Their patience and loyalty has been very much appreciated during this challenging period. There is still more work to do and we will continue to work with owners and racing's stakeholders to get our sport back up and running in full with people across the UK able to enjoy a day's racing on course when it is safe and appropriate to do so.”