UK horse racing faces 'severe threat' warns BHA

Tipsters Review - 03-Oct-2020

UK horse racing faces 'severe threat' warns BHA

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has warned that the racing industry in the UK may be at risk after the return of spectators to events was delayed due to an increase in novel COVID-19 cases.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson exposed a set of new restrictions following a rise of coronavirus cases across the country. Included in the new measures was a 6-month suspension on fans returning to stadiums and outdoor venues, despite the successful pilot events in which limited numbers of fans have been permitted to return to sporting venues.

The BHA’s deems the latest measures as being a severe blow to the horseracing industry and to the people who depend on it for their living:

"Our sport has worked hard with public health officials to return safely and carry out pilot events. The exemplary response from the spectators in following the measures we put in place has shown that organised events can be run safely. We look forward to a full evaluation of the pilots and for the evidence to be used to inform future decisions about sporting events.

"Despite all those efforts, our industry is now facing a severe threat.

"We are the second most attended spectator sport in the country. Without the millions of people who normally enjoy a day at the races, many people’s jobs are at serious risk, as are the businesses they work in."


BHA Chief Executive, Nick Rust announced that the agreed recovery plan for British racing is based on a fixture programme for 2021 that seeks to maximise prize money while keeping cost-bases as low as possible.

The recovery policy that was negotiated between the BHA, the Racecourse Association and owners’, jockeys’ and trainers’ representatives outlines that the return of spectators to racetracks is vital for the future sustainability of the industry. So, with the current measures, the industry is at risk.

Racing also plays a pivotal role in the gambling industry. According to its 2019 report, horse racing generated 21% of William Hill's retail revenues. That's 4% more than football and 13% more than greyhounds.

Britain's best-known former bookie Barry Dennis believes catastrophic consequences lie ahead for on-course bookies if spectators to not return to Britain's racetracks within the next six months:

"Catastrophic - that's what it is. Catastrophic.

"On-course bookmakers have got no future at all at the moment, have they?

"My staff were furloughed, and their furlough ends at the end of October, so after that, I’ve either to pay them or sack them, haven’t I?

"Can I keep paying the staff their monthly wages if there's no racing for six months when I've got no income? No, I can't.

"So, consequently, I’ve got to sack the staff."

Dennis requested the BHA to include on-course bookmakers in future aid packages:

"On-course bookmakers need help,” he added. “Jockeys, trainers, stable staff - all of those are actually still employed.

"They are still getting something, whereas people like me and my colleagues - we are getting nothing, and we've got no chance of getting anything.

"I hope there is some resolve in this before Christmas. Truthfully, that's all I hope."

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