Racing comes first from the stalls with the Jockey Club Race Course Wincanton track hoping to take advantage of it
Racing comes first from the garage with Jockey Club Raceourses’ Wincanton circuit in rural Somerset, which seeks to capitalize on the government’s decision to allow crowds to return
- Sports across England got a huge boost from the government on Monday
- The government announced a limited return of crowds to live sporting events
- And racecourse officials soon began to consider their options
Racecourse officials were quick out of the stalls Monday night to consider their options when positive news of a limited return from the crowds emerged.
While it will be confirmed later this week which tier a race track falls into, an early beneficiary of the changes could be Jockey Club Raceourse (JCR), with their Wincanton course in rural Somerset looking best to take advantage on December 3rd.
JCR would then hold hopes of a number of spectators at Sandown’s two-day Tingle Creek Chase meeting (December 4-5), the following week’s two-day International Hurdle meeting in Cheltenham (December 11-12) plus the King George VI Chase match in Kempton (December 26-27).
Racecourse officials immediately made plans for crowds to return to live events
BHA CEO Nick Rust said: “This is great news for racing and for our many millions of fans who have not been able to see the sport they love in person since March. We know numbers are limited to begin with and not all locations will allow spectators, but this is progress. ‘
When no crowds appeared to be allowed, the number of Boxing Day gatherings was cut in half to four. Whether these changes will have enough financial impact to reverse that decision in whole or in part remains to be seen, but that option was left open by the BHA.
There are big questions. For example, do owners count towards the number of spectators? But after successfully using a zone system on tracks since racing was allowed to resume, and also hosting pilot events in Doncaster and Warwick, the sport has a blueprint to work on.
Jockey Club Raceourses’ Wincanton circuit could be the first to receive fans after the lockdown ends
Having 4,000 attendees should be enough for tracks to recoup their infrastructure costs and get some returns – a lifeline for businesses that have wasted money.
Annual members of the racetrack should be the first to take advantage of this.
A huge boost is that high street betting shops will be one of the non-essential shops that will be allowed to open. While closed, Racing is losing £ 12.5 million a month in lost fees and media rights payments.