By Andrew Atkinson
A gathering of people outside Musselburgh racecourse, all standing at the 5 furlongs start viewpoint, during the behind closed doors meeting on September 27, has led to racehorse owner David Armstrong questioning a spectators ban of the turf.
“Musselburgh racecourse – how ridiculous is this,?” said Armstrong, after a crowd gathered outside around the 5 furlongs start at the East Lothian track.
Racing has seen a ban on racegoers attending meetings following the spike in coronavirus cases throughout the UK, that comes on the back of a lockdown in March.
Those that gathered outside Musselburgh racecourse were deemed local racing enthusiasts and not having travelled any length of the country to watch racing.
All sports venues are going ahead behind closed doors in an attempt by the Government to stop the spreading of the coronavirus outbreak, after a u-turn on pilot schemes that had limited crowds in attendance.
Musselburgh is the second largest racecourse in Scotland and fourteenth biggest in the UK that stages 28 meetings across Flat and the National Hunt jumps season.
The Flat racing season ends on October 12, with the start of the NH jumps meetings at Musselburgh racecourse on November 4.
Musselburgh staged eight races on September 27 and certain bodies are worried that racing could be banned – if spectators don’t stay away under the strict protocol of the coronavirus legislation.
Racehorse owner Armstrong said: “At Musselburgh the crowd would be safer under COVID-19 controls, on the inside of the racecourse.”
Nicola Sturgeon First Minister for Scotland reported that as of September 26; 756,750 people had been tested for coronavirus, with 27,232 testing positive and 2,511 deaths.
Jockey Paul Hanagan was riding at Musselburgh, 24 hours after Majestic Dawn won the prestigious bet365 Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket, it being his biggest success since returning from a career threatening injury.
“Winning the Cambridgeshire gave me so much pleasure. It was very special,” said former champion jockey Hanagan, sidelined for six months after breaking his back at Newcastle in February.
“I was out for six months with the injury – I didn’t think I was going to make it back – so I’m delighted to bag a winner like that,” said Hanagan.
“It was a very tough time but days like this make it all worthwhile,” said Hanagan, 40.
“I’ve got so many people to thank including Jack Berry House, family and friends, Richard Fahey and my agent Richard Hale,” said Hanagan.