THE BHA has announced UK racing will take place behind closed doors this week in the face of the coronavirus threat.
No date has been revealed for the move, which would follow the restrictions already in place in Ireland and Scotland.
But a statement yesterday confirmed: “The BHA will tomorrow discuss an approach recommended by the industry’s COVID-19 group.
“It is likely to mean racing moves behind closed doors later in the week, initially until the end of March. Racing’s fixture list will also be considered.”
Closure to the end of March puts the Grand National meeting, which starts on April 2, very much under threat.
The BHA statement added: “The UK Government has been briefed on the issues involved in staging the Grand National. A decision will be announced as soon as possible.”
Martin Cruddace, boss of Arc, who own 16 tracks including Lingfield, Doncaster and Windsor, had earlier predicted a move would be “imminent”.
Cruddace said: “We’re following the Government advice, but I think it’s safe to say that’s very likely to change imminently.
“My own view is that could be within the next 48 hours. We’re planning for the worst case scenario, end of June. It’s possible we won’t be able to race again with a crowd until then.”
Arc’s smaller tracks could well bear the financial burden of a punter shutdown.
Cruddace added: “It’s going to be very difficult financially for us to race unless we have some support from elsewhere.
“Many of those meetings will not be financially viable for us to put on without relief.”
Kelso is the first Scottish track to race with no crowd today.
At Limerick yesterday extreme measures were brought in to ensure the show could go on.
The jockeys were given extra room in their changing areas to ensure strict social-distancing, while the starter was instructed to stay in their car between races.