- ‘We have to be realistic that it is likely only small numbers of people will be present’ – Ian Renton, Regional director of the Jockey Club and responsible for staging the Cheltenham Festival
- Epsom, Leicester, Newcastle, Windsor and Beverley racecourses to be used as vaccine centres
By Andrew Atkinson
Racing will continue in Britain amid new stricter coronovirus lockdowns announced in England and Scotland on January 4 following an increase in Covid-19 cases and concerns over a highly transmissible new variant of the virus.
Elite sport – which racing comes under the umbrella – was given the go-ahead to continue by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and first minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Cheltenham’s Festival in March, which controversially went ahead in 2020, with 250,000 spectators in attendance over the four days meeting, is set to take place without bumper crowds.
“We’ve accepted that it is going to be a different festival this year to normal,” said Cheltenham spokesperson Ian Renton.
Mr Renton, Regional director of the Jockey Club and responsible for staging the Cheltenham Festival, said: “We have to be realistic that it is likely only small numbers of people will be present.
“Let’s see where we are by March – but the team is focused on setting the stage for four world-class days of racing, which are vital to many livelihoods in the British racing industry and will hopefully be enjoyed by many millions of people on television.”
The vaccination programme in Britain recorded 58,784 Covid-19 cases and 407 deaths on January 4.
Two vaccines have been approved in Britain for coronavirus, with Epsom, Leicester, Newcastle, Windsor and Beverley racecourses to be used as vaccine centres.