Walsh backs racing's ability to adapt to life behind closed doors

‘Golden opportunity for racing to showcase itself’.

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Ruby Walsh believes enforcing social distancing should not prove too much of an issue when racing eventually resumes.

There has been no racing in Britain since March 17, while Ireland called a halt to their action on March 24 after staging 10 meetings behind closed doors.

Social distancing was being enforced on those tracks while they raced, with limited numbers of people on course, but Walsh feels even fewer attendees would be possible if necessary.

Speaking in a Q&A session for racingtv.com, Walsh said: “It’s not that difficult to do it once you close the gates and there are no spectators, no bookmakers and no owners. I don’t even know if trainers need to be there, apart from those with smaller numbers of staff.

“You could go even further. With no connections, jockeys would not need to congregate in the parade ring. They could walk straight out 10 minutes before the off, get on the horse and go straight to the start.

“With enough will – and if you were looking to make it work – it is easy to do it and I think you can keep people a safe distance apart while you are at it.

“They have an opportunity to make a case, but this country will be led by the health people. When they make a decision that’s when we will know when there is a resumption of normal life, let alone racing. Everyone will be guided by what they say.”

Walsh – who retired at the Punchestown Festival last year – also thinks the experience of staging fixtures under strict measures should stand Horse Racing Ireland in good stead when it comes to planning a route forward for the sport.

He said: “They have a blueprint and they refined it from one meeting to the next.

“Racing has some big challenges to face and overcome but I think it can and, being a solitary sport, it has a bigger chance of resuming (sooner) than a lot of team sports.

“There is a golden opportunity for racing to showcase itself to a much broader audience in the coming weeks and months.”

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