British racing to move behind closed doors

Racing in Britain is set to move behind closed doors later in the week, initially until the end of March, the British Horseracing Authority has announced.

The Cheltenham Festival took place as scheduled last week but fixtures in Ireland were closed to the public from Friday evening and it is a similar situation in Scotland.

The closures following guidance from the Irish and Scottish governments regarding the banning of mass gatherings of more than 500 people.

The BHA said the sport's leadership would discuss an approach on Monday recommended by the industry's COVID-19 group.

"It is likely to mean that racing moves behind closed doors later in the week, initially until the end of March. Racing's fixture list will also be considered," the BHA said in a statement on Sunday.

"With race meetings due to happen every day, the intention is to agree a programme that is sustainable in the light of possible staff absences, including in critical roles, which protects industry staff and supports the wider effort to free up critical public services."

Aintree's three-day Grand National meeting is due to take place on April 2-4.

The BHA statement said the UK Government had been briefed on the issues involved in staging the Grand National and a decision would be announced as soon as possible.

BHA chief executive Nick Rust said racing had worked hard to look after customers and staff by following the government's guidance.

"We will agree plans to limit attendance to participants and staff only at race meetings from this week and put in place the contingency plans developed by the industry," he said.