British Horseracing Authority chief executive Nick Rust has promised a “determination” that his sport “will not be beaten” by the fixture-list shutdown which has been instituted during the coronavirus pandemic.
Rust’s reassurance came in a BHA progress report on the response of a racing industry steering group to the crisis, which has forced the British Government into urgent measures to mitigate the spread of the virus and resulted in the cancellation of thousands sports and entertainment events the world over.
The update, on Thursday afternoon, placed financial assistance for those facing hardship at the top of racing’s urgent priorities – and added a plan is already being formulated for an eventual resumption of the fixture list.
The BHA’s statement, published two days after the governing body announced all British racing will be suspended until the start of May at the earliest, added that it is hoped an initial contingency plan can be finalised after a further meeting on Friday morning.
Rust, who chairs the steering group, said: “The effort from across the sport at the moment is incredible.
“There is a determination that racing will not be beaten by this shutdown. The willingness to help is universal. We will do all we can to keep people informed as we progress.”
The BHA statement read: “Racing leaders are working to a detailed plan coordinated by the industry group set up to tackle COVID 19. The focus of the plan has shifted over the last 72 hours from allowing racing to continue behind closed doors, maintaining high medical and welfare standards, to meeting the immediate needs of individuals facing hardship and working on a financial response in the light of the suspension of racing.”
Top of the agenda is to “work on an assessment of immediate needs and identify the funding available from Government and industry sources as a priority”.
The intention is to apply for Government assistance on behalf of those in most pressing need – including jockeys no longer able to earn their freelance salaries but also trainers, breeders and the courses themselves while racing is off.
The BHA added in its statement: “As well as the immediate response to the shutdown, (the steering group) is coordinating teams and resources to focus on the problems and issues the industry needs to address and resolve.
“It is already developing a resumption plan to enable racing to get up and running when that becomes possible.”