Ascot and Jockey Club set to be protected by insurance if biggest days are lost
Racing's beleaguered finances are set to receive some respite after it emerged Royal Ascot, the Randox Health Grand National and Investec Derby are all insured against loss due to a communicable disease such as the coronavirus.
The Racing Post understands Ascot and the Jockey Club both have showpiece occasion policies in place that will provide some compensation in the event that the royal meeting and Epsom's two Classics suffer the same fate as the Grand National festival, which will not take place this year.
The All England Club is on Wednesday expected to announce the cancellation of this year's Wimbledon tennis championships, with the organisers likely to be spared an enormous financial loss due to an insurance policy that takes in pandemics.
Racecourses are believed to have learned the lessons of the 2001 foot and mouth crisis and last year's equine flu outbreak by seeking to strengthen insurance cover in the event of abandonment for such extraordinary reasons.
Any protection would, however, not stop the sport's top racecourses incurring associated costs due to the cancellation of racing.
It is also generally not economically viable to insure the vast majority of meetings that make up the sport's fixture list. That means those racecourse groups and tracks that put on the bulk of cards are bracing themselves for what is to come, their situations made worse by the fact non-racing events have also been stopped due to Covid-19.
Newbury last week told shareholders it is poised to take a serious economic hit, stating: "The company routinely insures a number of its race meetings for abandonment, however at inception of the policy in January this year, insurers stipulated a specific exclusion in respect of any loss as a result of Covid-19.
"As a result of this, together with the additional expected impact on both media and betting revenues, it's anticipated there will be a significant financial impact on the company as a result of the suspension of racing, particularly if the ban continues beyond the end of April."
The consequences of racing's hiatus are being felt in every corner of the industry, including by trainers such as David Elsworth.
"I hope I'm wrong, because I'm very pessimistic, but I feel this thing hasn't reached a point of equilibrium yet," said the Newmarket-based Elsworth.
"The numbers are increasing and until they start to subside and we see some reduction in the outbreaks, it remains a worry.
"Even if we do see those numbers decrease, we're still going to have to maintain a measure to control it, so I think it's going to take a lot longer than is predicted – but I hope I'm wrong, I really do."
There were 381 deaths due to coronavirus recorded in Britain for the 24 hours up to 5pm on Monday, more than double the number of deaths reported for the previous 24 hours. That brought the number of deaths up to 1,789 from the previous day's total of 1,408, the biggest rise in the number of deaths in a single day since the beginning of the outbreak.
Ascot has also been donating to various local charities, sending £1,000 to help Dingley’s Promise Charity and Thames Hospice. The racecourse will also be donating double that figure to First Days Charity after seeing a TV news story about the charity's financial struggles since the pandemic.
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