Racing is likely to resume on the Flat and “almost certainly behind closed doors” once given the appropriate go-ahead following the current shutdown that is scheduled to last at least until the end of April amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A letter has been sent to the sport’s stakeholders from the British Horseracing Authority’s Brant Dunshea, in his capacity as leader of the Resumption of Racing Group, outlining the latest thinking, with the aim of being prepared for a May 1 restart, should that be possible.
It is expected racing will be phased back in, be behind closed doors and will start with Flat racing only, reflecting the likelihood that any easing of the Covid-19 situation, and any associated restrictions and pressures on medical services, will also happen progressively.
A move to start with the Flat would be principally for reasons of safety and to minimise demands on emergency services, although every effort would be made to resume jumping at the earliest opportunity, possibly with the scheduling of some jumpers’ bumpers cards.
The letter came as the BHA announced money-saving measures of up to £1million a month during the present crisis, with more than 200 staff to be furloughed under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Most of these are race-day officials, but staff from 75 High Holborn, including Great British Racing and Great British Racing International, are also affected.
Salary reductions are also to take effect for all BHA staff, with board salaries are also reduced.
The BHA will keep critical functions ticking over so that it can respond in an agile and flexible way as the crisis allows.
BHA chair, Annamarie Phelps, said: “Our board considered a range of options for how to maintain the most appropriate team that would allow us to carry out our role in the industry’s crisis response.
“That includes the urgent financial work we are doing alongside industry colleagues, engaging effectively with government and making sure we have the right plan and the right resources in place to start racing again when we can.
“In particular, whilst the current suspension is to the end of April, we will ensure that racing is ready to resume from May 1 onwards, if it proves possible to do so.”
Phelps added: “My message to all our staff is that I’m incredibly proud of the work you have been doing to support the industry. It will be a blow, I know, to those standing down from next week and unable to work. You want to be doing your best, as ever, for the sport you love.
“I hope you will look after yourself and your families and be ready to come back to work when that is possible. For those who will continue to work, I know you will keep giving all you can to get us through this crisis.”