UK horse racing to welcome back crowds in September

By SWL staff
September 1 2020, 15.00

Horse racing could be one of the first sports to welcome back crowds since the introduction of social distancing measures.

It’s expected that upcoming horse race meetings in Doncaster and Warwick in September could host crowds while maintaining the necessary precautions. As such, it could be just a matter of time before we could welcome back crowds to horse races in and around London.

Many Londoners will have been disappointed that there was no Glorious Goodwood festival this summer. Glorious Goodwood is held just 60 miles from London, and it was expected to be one of the first major sporting events to be attended by crowds since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The famous horse racing meeting was hoped to feature up to 5,000 fans for the final day. This was part of a trial to see how sporting events could function with limited capacity crowds. But a surge in Covid-19 cases meant that the project was called off at short notice. The cancellation of Glorious Goodwood reportedly cost the race meeting organisers a six-figure sum.

Horse racing has been held behind closed doors since early June when the government introduced plans to cautiously allow sporting events to proceed without crowds. But it has been revealed that Doncaster’s St Leger Festival could now feature crowds.

The race meeting will kick off on 9 September, and it will feature the legendary St Leger race that was won in 2019 by Frankie Dettori riding Logician. This is the world’s oldest Classic race.  It’s a race that always get betting fans excited, and here are a couple of suggestions to get you started in picking a winner of this legendary horse racing meeting.

At the moment, there are expected to be over 3,000 attendees on the opening day of the St Leger Festival. However, this could rise up to over 6,000 general admissions over the remainder of the race meeting. The issuing of tickets will be strictly controlled, with all tickets only being able to be bought ahead of the horse racing event.

This will be backed up by a range of measures introduced to govern the strict social distancing protocols. There will be restrictions over personal hygiene, along with a new code of conduct for attendees.

If the St Leger Festival goes ahead successfully, then there are hopes that more horse race meetings will welcome back racing fans. Already there are plans to reintroduce crowds at the race meeting in Warwick on 21 September. Plus the Newmarket racecourse is making plans to allow racegoers to attend on 24 September.

There will be plenty of care taken to ensure that the race meetings abide by the social distancing guidelines. This year’s Cheltenham Festival was blamed for accelerating the spread of the pandemic. That race meeting was held just 10 days before the government introduced severe lockdown measures in March. Well over 150,000 people attended the Cheltenham Festival, and it’s expected to be a long time before we see such large numbers at any sporting event in the UK.

However, there are still hopes that crowds will be able to attend a wide range of sporting encounters from 1 October. At the moment there are still plans to reintroduce fans to stadiums at Premier League football matches. Such plans are essential for the financial survival of many sporting organisations.

All of which means that the upcoming St Leger Festival will be hugely important for much more than just what happens on the racecourse. But hopefully it should signal the reintroduction of attended race meetings in and around our nation’s capital before too long.

Featured image by Bhakti Iyata from Pixabay.

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