Warwick and Newmarket test meetings amid COVID-19

Warwick and Newmarket test meetings amid COVID-19
Warwick and Newmarket test meetings amid COVID-19

By Andrew Atkinson

Warwick racecourse will be a UK Government test event on September 21, with an attendee capacity of 474 spectators amid COVID-19 legislation.

Tickets will not be available to the general public, with the meeting comprising of 150 annual members, 124 hospitality bookers and up to 200 owners, jockeys and raceday staff.

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming a number of annual members to the racecourse,” said Andre Klein, general manager at Warwick.

“Over the last few months we’ve worked hard to develop a robust plan for the event that ensures those attending will have an experience meeting the most stringent of health and safety measures.

“I’d like to thank the range of local stakeholders we have held constructive discussions with to achieve this outcome,” said Klein.

The attendees’ number has been cut from a initially planned 1,250 and 800, respectively: “We have followed requirements and made concessions to our original plan to significantly limit the number of people at the racecourse.

“But we will still gain very helpful insights from those who do attend and understand and appreciate the complexities facing those who were involved in making this decision,” said Klien.

Warwick made provisions for 1,250 spectators, prior last week’s test event at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting – abandoned after day one – with no spectators allowed for the remainder of the meeting.

Warwick reduced its application from the government capped 1,000 to 800, to enable spectators attend. However, amid meetings with local authorities and Public Health England, it was deemed an additional reduction to 474 was to be put in place, with general public spectators omitted.

“This meeting represented a further opportunity to stress to the secretary of state the message that he and his department have been receiving from the racing industry over the last few weeks, namely the consequences to the sport, and the many livelihoods it supports, of a delay to the return of crowds.

“It was a constructive and frank discussion about the perilous state of finances in racing and other sports. We will continue to engage with government to demonstrate that the public can return safely to our sport,” said BHA chair Annamarie Phelps.

*Newmarket is to stage a 1,000 person per day pilot meeting, during September 24-26.