Gosden: going racing will be safer than going to the supermarket
Champion Flat trainer John Gosden believes strict safety measures at behind-closed-doors fixtures will make racecourses safer than petrol stations and supermarkets, as he expressed relief at knowing a likely resumption date for racing in Britain.
On Monday, the government confirmed no sport in Britain would return until at least June 1 and the BHA is now working towards this day for a return of the sport. Racing has been suspended due to the Covid-19 outbreak since March 17.
The sport will return, initially, behind closed doors and with a number of safety measures in place including testing on arrival. Gosden, trainer of star performers Enable, Stradivarius and Logician, is ready for a return and is confident the environment will be safe for his stable staff.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday, Gosden said: "There’s relief that we know where we’re going. Step two said that from June 1 sport can occur behind closed doors from that date onwards and we can be absolutely ready.
"Our horses have been training throughout the spring, in this lovely weather, and they’re fit and ready to run. In Newmarket we have 2,500 horses training every day, socially distanced, and the great thing about our sport is that it’s non-contact."
He added: "I’ll feel very comfortable [at a racecourse] with our staff because I’ve seen all the factors and restrictions that has been put in. I think going to the racecourse will be a great deal safer than going to the petrol station or the supermarket."
Royal Ascot is still scheduled for June 16 despite most of the early-season race programme being moved. Gosden suggests if the Guineas meeting was moved the first weekend in June, it would work to keep the Royal meeting in its usual slot.
"It could be a fascinating meeting," he added. "If they run the Guineas here at the end of the first week [of June] in Newmarket you then could come back with the big races at Royal Ascot, like the St James’s Palace. You could probably get a prep race in before the Gold Cup and I think it could be fascinating.
"Remember, they’ve been racing in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Florida throughout this pandemic and under strict conditions behind closed doors, as we will.
"There will be no crowds and who knows when that’ll occur. This is a disease that might rumble on and it’s not an easy one, we might be in this situation for months. We don’t know.
"As long as we can race then we can do our bit for the economy - we contribute £4 billion in British racing and breeding every year. It is a matter of doing it and doing it safely under biosecurity guidelines."
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