New health and safety protocols well received by trainers and jockeys
Protocols designed to minimise the risk of spreading Covid-19 and allow racing to resume after a ten-week shutdown have been given the thumbs up by trainers and jockeys.
Jim Boyle and Charlie Bishop, who took part in a demonstration of the procedures at Lingfield, praised the work that had been done to get racing to a position where it can return on Monday, granted expected government approval, with Boyle outlining how he was “itching to get going”.
Professionals attending the races from Monday will have to undergo a number of health and safety checks, such as filling in health questionnaires and having their temperatures taken, as well as performing social distancing whenever possible and wearing face coverings.
Boyle said: “I'm very confident in the guidance. A lot of the measures we've already put in place at home and they're very sensible. They should be easy enough to enact and get the show running again in a safe way.”
One-way systems have been put in place in facilities such as the weighing room, while the requirement for social distancing has resulted in partitioning of the jockeys’ area and the creation of some temporary changing rooms, including at Newcastle where the betting hall has been refitted for riders to use instead of their normal rooms.
Trainers and valets will disinfect tack being used for racing and the exchange of saddles will be done via a ‘pass over area’ where the equipment will be placed down by the rider and collected by the trainer, or trainer’s representative, in plain sight to ensure the integrity of the tack.
Additionally, the BHA has identified areas where social distancing will not be possible, such as legging up riders into the saddle, meaning those involved in that process must wear face coverings.
Bishop said: “I'm really confident myself and my colleagues will be able to follow the safety measures. The weighing rooms have been changed so we have our own space and can social distance, and everything else is self explanatory. I think it'll work well.”
With no racing having taken place since March 17, resulting in the cancellation of some fixtures and the rearrangement of others, Boyle is eager to return and hopes it will provide some satisfaction to the owners who have not been able to see their horses race.
Boyle said: “Owners are paying a lot of money to have their horses trained and for 11 weeks they've had no chance of seeing their horses run on the track or come to the yard to see them exercise on the gallops.
“It's been very tough but a lot of very loyal owners have stuck with it and paid a lot of money to keep the horses in training, so we're itching to get going for them and for myself and my staff. This is what we do it for and the horses love their job and going out racing as well.”
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