Next Tuesday’s scheduled meeting at Leicester will go ahead as planned despite the continuing local lockdown in the city, the British Horseracing Authority said on Friday evening. A full team of stalls handlers will also be on duty at the track, but owners will not be allowed to attend and the decision to proceed “will remain under review should circumstances change significantly in the area”.
Last Tuesday’s nine-race meeting at Leicester went ahead amid some controversy less than 24 hours after an announcement by Matthew Hancock, the health secretary, that additional lockdown measures were being imposed locally due to an increased level of Covid-19 infections in the area.
Several trainers decided not to send runners to the course, while all but four of the 11 stalls handlers due to be on duty refused to work at the meeting. As a result, all races were started with a “flip” tape.
The BHA has decided to go ahead with racing next Tuesday on the basis that the current, heightened lockdown in Leicester is a return to the conditions in place on 14 June. The course staged its first meeting after the resumption of racing behind closed doors on 13 June.
Announcing the decision on Friday evening, the BHA said that “the sport’s detailed safety measures, which include the health screening of all attendees and strict social distancing protocols, will be in place at the fixture. The focus of these measures is to safeguard officials, participants and local communities.”
While two owners per runner will be allowed to attend race meetings from 4 July, however, the reversion to an earlier protocol means that this will not be the case at Leicester until the local lockdown is eased.
“We are grateful for the input of representative bodies in developing our protocols for responding to local lockdowns,” a BHA spokesperson said on Friday. “Everyone in the sport remains in agreement that safety is the number one priority while racing’s behind closed doors resumption continues.
“The sport’s strict health screening and social distancing protocols continue to ensure that racecourses are amongst the most controlled of workplaces, and that local communities are not affected by behind closed doors fixtures.”
Friday’s best bets, by Greg Wood
An exceptional weekend of racing at Epsom, Sandown Park and Chantilly is preceded by four meetings that are long on numbers and less so on quality. There are a few potential bets scattered around the cards, however, headed up by Queen Of Silca (2.50) in the seven-furlong handicap at Chepstow.
Mick Channon’s filly was a maiden after six starts prior to the resumption of racing on 1 June, but she has already won twice since the restart and showed significant improvement for a switch back to turf at Haydock last time out. Queen Of Silca was a cosy winner in a very strong time and a price of around 7-4 for today’s race looks very fair under a 6lb penalty.
Avenue Of Stars (1.15) is another solid option on the same card, while Nashy (4.00) has been given a decent mark of 77 for his handicap debut at Haydock after two promising runs in maiden company. Dark Defender (4.15) and Dawaween (4.50) make most appeal at Hamilton while Pull Harder Con (6.30) is fairly priced at around 3-1 on the evening card at Wolverhampton.
Haydock Park 12.00 Red For All 12.30 Famille Rose 1.00 Chairmanic 1.30 True Hero 2.00 William Bligh 2.30 Zezenia 3.00 Derdas 3.30 Bertog 4.00 Nashy (nb)
Chepstow 12.15 Mitrosonfire 12.45 Mutahamisa 1.15 Avenue Of Stars 1.45 Dromquinna 2.20 Incentive 2.50 Queen of Silca (nap) 3.20 Red Royalist 3.50 Sula Island
Hamilton Park 2.10 Montalvan 2.40 Shesadabber 3.10 Source Of Wealth 3.40 Eternal Blush 4.15 Dark Defender 4.50 Dawaaween 5.20 Storm head 5.50 Le Chiffre 6.20 Nataleena
Wolverhampton 5.00 Al Salt 5.30 Fandabidozi 6.00 Harbour Vision 6.30 Pull Harder Con 7.00 Spurofthemoment 7.30 Simba Samba 8.00 Solar Park 8.30 Lismore