Pontefract team planning for racing return

Venue scheduled to race twice under new schedule.

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Officials at Pontefract are busy preparing for next month’s planned resumption of racing having been allotted two fixtures in the opening weeks of action.

The sport has been on hold since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the British Horseracing Authority is planning for a June 1 return, subject to Government approval.

Pontefract’s chief operating officer Richard Hammill is pleased to see the track pencilled in to stage two meetings behind closed doors in the rejigged fixture list unveiled by the BHA on Friday night.

He said: “We’re excited to get back racing, although obviously we’re waiting for Government approval for the sport to resume.

“We have got two early slots, on June 10 and 15, so we are deep in the operational planning of staging a raceday so that we are ready to go.”

The BHA is yet to publish its protocols for staging meetings, but stringent hygiene measures are likely along with limits on the number of people on course in order to observe social distancing.

Pontefract is leased from Wakefield Council and while the public is usually allowed to access the area, Hammill and his team will need to close the park during racing in order to meet the BHA requirements.

He explained: “Pontefract Park is owned by Wakefield Council and we lease the track, but under the lease we can close off the park and secure the area, so we have been working closely with the council on that.

“You will notice we have two midweek afternoon slots rather than weekends or evenings, as we felt racing at those times would limit any impact on the residents of Pontefract.”

The BHA has published its proposed list of fixtures up to the end of August, with key meetings such as Glorious Goodwood and the Ebor meeting at York unchanged from the original schedule.

The first jumps fixture since the suspension of racing is due to be at Southwell on July 1 and while meetings in Scotland and Wales have been provisionally scheduled, they will only be confirmed following further consultation with the relevant Governments on timescales for potential resumption.

All non-Pattern and Listed races will be limited to 12 runners for the first week of the resumption, with a review of the decision then taking place.

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