Chelmsford refining plans for behind-closed-doors racing and testing measures
Chelmsford is hoping to refine its plans for racing behind closed doors before the sport is given the green light by the government and intends to provide Covid-19 tests for all staff and participants.
The track, which has registered an interest in being among the first venues to stage racing when it returns, potentially from June 1, has discussed the logistics of testing with two private laboratories.
Its chief executive Philip Siers has said on-site tests could take place daily and the results may even be available in around 25 minutes.
"We're being proactive and working to get racing back," said Siers. "We want it to return but cannot put anybody at risk so we're trying to establish a coronavirus-free environment at the track.
"We're trying to put ourselves in a position whereby the government and the BHA are confident we can return to action sensibly. We want to ensure everybody at the track is clear of the coronavirus.
"The return of racing is subject to government approval and we'll be ready to go. We're close to Newmarket so we have a wide catchment area for trainers and we've worked hard to maintain the track."
The BHA is considering a number of options relating to testing that can be applied at all racecourses when racing is permitted to return.
A spokesman said: "We're continuing to work with other major sports and public health authorities on possible approaches to testing for behind-closed-doors sport, which could be applied consistently across all fixtures once the sport resumes if required. This process is still ongoing and therefore is yet to be finalised."
Musselburgh is also using the next few weeks to prepare for a resumption and members of its furloughed groundstaff will temporarily resume work this month to ready the track.
The Scottish government has deviated from the wider UK guidance and has not yet eased its lockdown restrictions, which will continue in their current form until the end of May at the earliest.
The East Lothian Courier reported on Tuesday that in a joint letter to Scottish sports minister Joe Fitzpatrick a number of the country's MPs have urged a quick and safe restart to racing.
The letter reads: "Racing finds itself in a unique position compared to other Scottish sports in that our equine athletes, cherished so highly by those in the industry, have remained in training during the pandemic and will therefore be able to come back on shorter notice than the human athletes in other sports.
"When it is safe to do so, a return to racing is the best way of getting the economic cogs of the industry turning once more, and kickstart the benefits to the Scottish economy that horseracing brings, even in a behind-closed-doors environment.
"Therefore, we ask that you please accelerate your talks with Scottish racing to ensure that a risk-managed return can take place as soon as possible and that a return to racing behind closed doors in Scotland does not get unduly delayed compared to the rest of the United Kingdom."
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