Jockeys can expect things to look “very, very different” when racing eventually resumes in Britain, according to Professional Jockeys Association chief executive Paul Struthers.
Racing has been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak since the meetings at Wetherby and Taunton took place behind closed doors on March 17. Resumption planning has centred around a phased return on the Flat and behind closed doors, with field sizes restricted to 12 runners initially.
Speaking on Racing TV’s Luck on Sunday programme, Struthers said: “For jockeys it will look very, very different in the changing-room area. Social distancing is hugely important, and one of the things that’s really vital is that sport reflects the UK Government’s wider advice to the public and doesn’t feel like it’s a special case.
“We also need to risk-assess all the activities to make sure they are safe, but there may be occasions where the way sport behaves – not just racing – is slightly different to how the public need to behave. If that is the case we need to be able to very confidently – and with evidence – support why it is different, so actually what will happen is going racing is safer than going to the supermarket, because of the screening and the testing and the measures that will be in place on the racecourse to protect everyone that is serving the fixtures.
“For jockeys saunas will be out of use and we know showers will be out of use, which will cause unpleasantness, obviously the shower element, but even a cold shower creates an aerosol. There will be other elements that we don’t know for sure yet – will racecourses be able to provide a nutrition offering to jockeys, or will jockeys need to bring their own provisions to the racecourse? We don’t know.
“Legging up horses in the parade ring – the likelihood is there will be one or two individuals tasked with that job rather than being legged up by the trainer or trainer’s employee. It will be very different for them, and the view we are hearing is some of these things will be difficult but if that is what it takes to get us back racing, that is what it takes and we’ll make do.”