Plans for the potential resumption of racing have met with a positive response from the Professional Jockeys Association, although it admits some participants could be in a for a “frustrating” time due to rider restrictions.
A communication from the Resumption of Racing Group sent to trainers via the British Horseracing Authority on Thursday outlined proposals for field restrictions of 12 runners per race and the use of only senior jockeys when the sport eventually gets the go-ahead to return.
Smaller fields are thought to reduce the risk of incidents and also help with social distancing, while the BHA said analysis indicated “the more experienced riders are less likely to suffer injuries”, so only senior riders would be involved initially and they would be limited to one meeting a day.
It is understood the restrictions could apply to all or some claiming riders, but Dale Gibson, PJA executive director (Racing), has assured those affected the organisation will seek for the measure to be lifted as soon as it becomes possible, with support remaining in the interim.
He said: “There is a shared common goal of achieving a safe resumption of racing in a controlled environment once we are permitted to do so and all parties are working hard to achieve that.
“We will continue to liaise with the BHA on additional jockey specific issues, with the health and safety of all participants at the top of our agenda.
“We were pleased that there will only be a limited restriction on jockey bookings which is very good news for full jockeys, although of course we recognise that this is potentially frustrating for inexperienced claiming jockeys.
“We are waiting further detail from the BHA regarding fall and incident data, before any decision on restrictions is finalised.
“We can assure them that any restrictions will only be temporary and we will we seek to have them lifted at the earliest opportunity, whilst offering ongoing support to those who need it through our recently confirmed Coronavirus Jockey Support package.”
The last meetings to take place in Britain were at Wetherby and Taunton on March 17, both behind closed doors. Any resumption will be phased and on the Flat behind closed doors, with all plans being subject to Government approval.