Wetherby and Taunton offer final action before racing halt

Glencassley the last winner before British racing suspension.

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On the last day of British racing until at least the end of April, Wetherby and Taunton staged meetings behind closed doors.

With the situation changing all the time due to the coronavirus, it was announced on Monday that meetings could go ahead without the paying public, only for an announcement to be made 24 hours later that racing was suspended.

With a severely restricted attendance, there was an eerie feel to Wetherby, with the stands remaining empty and a skeleton staff on show.

Racing went without a hitch, though, and clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson was pleased to get through the day.

He said: “It went as well as could be expected. Everybody was very understanding – there were no rows about tickets or anything, there was a bit of a wartime spirit about it.

“The news came out late morning that, as of tomorrow, there would be no more racing for the foreseeable and that was much discussed, but everybody just cracked on really.

“There was a very eerie feel to the place and you could certainly hear Dianne Sayer shouting home her winner (Oceanus) in the first!

“Theoretically we will lose at least three meetings, but there are two more after that which you would have to think are in doubt, so it could be five realistically.

“The end of April sounds very close to me, that as a nation, we can be up and down that curve in time to start racing again.

“The amount of people this will affect within the industry does not bear thinking about and with no racing to bet on, there’ll be no money going in the Levy – we’ve just no way of knowing how this will pan out.

“For instance, I was up at Mark Johnston’s the other day and he employs 120 people. Now, as he says, he’s lucky enough to have Darley behind him, but all those horses need exercising still, but they can’t earn any prize money.

“As we’ve never faced anything like this before, it’s impossible to know when it will end, but we are where we are.”

Fergal O’Brien made the journey north from his Gloucestershire base and it was a successful one as Global Fame (8-13 favourite) landed the odds in the Racing TV-sponsored Novices’ Hurdle.

“He did that nicely, he was entitled to do that today,” said O’Brien.

“I think we’ll school him over fences before roughing him off, possibly start him back in the good novice hurdle at Chepstow’s first meeting and then see where we go.”

O’Brien was registering his 63rd and likely final winner of the season from his new yard, but recognised the unusual circumstances of the campaign was drawing to a close.

“What is happening is terrible for everyone in racing. We’ve just moved into a new place, it’s not ideal for anyone, but it is what is,” he added.

“We’re all in the same boat and we’ve all just got to row in the same direction.”

Glencassley, trained by Charlie Longsdon and ridden by Aidan Coleman, won the closing bumper as the 9-4 favourite.

Wetherby and Taunton offer final action before racing halt
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