BHA cautious on racing resumption date amid mid-May rumours

Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), has emphasised that it will take ‘every possible step’ to ensure a safe return for racing before naming a date for resumption.

The sport has been suspended since 17 March, however there has been speculation that the sport could restart on 15 May.

Speaking to Sky Sports Racing, Wayman defended the decision not to identify a particular date for resuming racing. He said: “We have put forward detailed plans to the government but it has to be a two-way process where we’re sensitive to what the government and the scientific officials advising them are saying back to us.

“I don’t think it would have been the right thing for us to come out and name a date, it would have been an arbitrary date. Our aim is to ensure when we’re given the green light we’re ready to go.

“One of the worst things that could happen for racing or any sport is for it to resume then after a few weeks have to stop because we haven’t got it right. We’re really dependent on the work of Dr Jerry Hill the chief medical adviser of the BHA who’s working with other sports to ensure when it does resume it does so in a safe way.

“We need to make sure we’ve gone through every possible step to make sure that the return is a safe one.”

Earlier this week, BHA Chief Executive Nick Rust revealed that the racing authority has been working to develop plans to resume the sport behind closed doors as part of a phased reintroduction once government approval has been given.

It comes as Dominic Raab stated that restarting sport in Britain would ‘lift the spirits of the nation’ during Tuesday’s Downing Street briefing.

Raab revealed that the government ‘has had constructive meetings with sports bodies’, adding that the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden MP, was looking at plans to hold sports behind closed doors.

“I can tell you that the culture secretary has been working on a plan to get sport played behind closed doors when we move to the second phase so that is something we are looking at,” Raab said.

“Of course, the key point though – we can only do it when the medical advice and scientific advice is that it can be done safely and sustainably. But certainly that is something under active consideration.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock has also suggested that he would consider the prospect of racing and Premier League football resuming on the condition that it was safe to do so.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, he said: “I’m absolutely open to that, and horseracing too. I know the Premier League and racing are working on how this might be doable in a safe way, but that safety has to be paramount.

“We’ve got to make decisions about what the relative priorities are to all of the different things that could be reopened, and do everything we can at the same time to keep R [the infection rate] down.”

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