Warwick Welcomes Pilot Crowd

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A small crowd at Warwick Racecourse on Monday | PA Media

Warwick Racecourse welcomed a crowd of 500 annual members and hospitality guests for its jumps meeting on Monday. It was only the second time since racing resumed from a nine-week shutdown on June 1 that a crowd was permitted on a British racecourse-Doncaster had a week-long pilot project planned for its St Leger festival but that was shut down after just one card due to tightened government regulations.

Trainer Christian Williams was among those praising the Warwick project on Monday, saying, “It was brilliant, I think everything has been run so well. I think we’ve advertised ourselves well, and it was just great to come in today and see the crowd here. It’s our sport, and it’s great to see people back at the races.”

Racing continues to hold its collective breath, however, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson set to make a statement on Tuesday in the wake of rising COVID-19 levels in the country.

Owners were allowed to return to Irish racecourses beginning on Monday, with meetings staged at Listowel and Fairyhouse. Part owner Darragh McDonagh was on-course to see his Politicise win the featured Liam Healy Memorial Lartigue Hurdle at Listowel, and he said, “We come to Listowel every year and normally we come Thursday and go home on Sunday, but today is strange. We went for lunch in Listowel and were considering staying down today if the horse won, so at least we have decisions to make.

“It is a strange atmosphere, but they are doing the best they can. We are all trying to do our bit to stay safe and we’re back racing, so we’ll take it.”

Fairyhouse’s General Manager Peter Roe said of the return of owners, “It’s a great step. It’s the first tiny steps, and we hope we can keep going. It’s great just to get a bit of atmosphere back here again, and great to see their enthusiasm. They pay the bills, keep the show on the road, and it’s great to have them back. They’ve come back to a different experience than they left beforehand, but I think everyone here is just delighted to get going again–we hope we’ll be able to continue.”

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