BHA defends decision to stage Leicester card despite lockdown

Tuesday 30 June 2020 18:27, UK

Leicester - awaiting green light for this evening's fixture
Image: Leicester racecourse staged a nine-race card on Tuesday

The British Horseracing Authority has defended the decision to stage a meeting at Leicester on Tuesday, despite the city being in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of trainers pulled their runners out due to concerns for their staff's safety and the races had to begin with a flip start, as only four stalls handlers had arrived at the track.

Leicester is the first city in the UK to have been placed under a local lockdown but the BHA say they were told the nine-race card could take place safely.

A statement read: "A number of individuals, including trainers and stalls handlers, have exercised their right not to travel to the race meeting at Leicester tonight.

"There are strict protocols in place at all race meetings including health screening and social distancing, which ensure that the racecourse is one of the most controlled working environments, and local authorities indicated that the race meeting should go ahead.

"However we entirely understand and respect the decisions taken by those individuals.

"Trainers have been informed that no penalties will be imposed with regards to withdrawn horses."

Racetech, who supply the stall handers, released a statement, which read: "Following confirmation earlier this morning that today's race meeting at Leicester was to go ahead, we received notification from a number of our stalls handlers stating they felt uncomfortable working at the course this evening.

"Unfortunately, due to the late notice, there was not sufficient time available to find replacement handlers to make up the team of eleven in time and therefore operate the starting stalls safely.

"Following a stewards enquiry and in co-operation with the BHA and Leicester Racecourse - the decision was made to use flip starts for the entire meeting."