(Reuters) - The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has said it is planning to resume the season on June 1 after the government released guidelines on Monday laying out the steps for easing COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
The BHA had hoped to restart the season by staging races without fans this month but has had to push that back after the government's roadmap for easing restrictions on elite sport said steps would be taken no earlier than June 1.
The BHA said in a statement https://www.britishhorseracing.com/press_releases/british-racing-welcomes-government-timeline-for-return-of-sport racing bodies were "committed to plan for resumption on June 1".
"The Resumption of Racing Group will meet later this week and ensure that race planning and the provisional fixture programme, including the scheduling of the Classics and other flagship races, meet the new government timeline.
"Racing has already drawn up plans for resumption based on minimising risk for participants through robust social distancing and strict infection control measures."
The government was widely criticised for allowing the Cheltenham horse racing festival to go ahead in March, shortly before the country went into lockdown, with hundreds of thousands of spectators in attendance.
The Grand National, Britain's most iconic horse race, was cancelled in March due to the pandemic while Ascot Racecourse said this year's Royal Ascot in June would be held without spectators.
Horse racing resumed in Germany last week with a limited number of races while it returned in France on Monday with races at ParisLongchamp. No fans were in attendance at both events.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)