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#5 - The resumption of Racing

Racing is not a sport for the vast majority of those involved, it’s an industry and we are all stakeholders.

For some Corinthians that add so much colour, it definitely is a sport, but for the rest of us it is our livelihood. From pinhookers to jockeys, stable lads to stipes, stalls handlers to stallion masters, valets to vets and racehorse trainers to racecourse managers racing isn’t just a way of life, it is for many their sole source of income.

I use Twitter as a tool to promote my business and recently have seen it as a medium to brighten the days of those on virtual house arrest without the benefit of a farm to work and exercise on. However as Brexit and a general election proved Twitter gives a poor litmus test of the national mood and for many it is largely an opportunity to virtue signal.

Therefore it was no surprise to see the reactions of several to Mark Johnston’s widely held view that the BHA voluntarily stopping racing early was a mistake. Ralph Beckett’s comments about the resumption of racing were guaranteed to cause a similar reaction as the impact of lockdown and Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc.

That does not mean that we should curl up and die for fear of upsetting Twitter or that we are at risk of misreading the mood of the nation if we talk about and plan to resume racing at the first opportunity. That’s not some selfish wish to indulge in a favoured pastime but a fervent need to self-help and see our businesses and our country back up and running.

Racing must be the first on to the field as it is in the rare position that it can run behind closed doors very successfully. A television audience does not need a raceday crowd to affect the drama and as Peter Saville so pertinently put it, if you can’t guarantee the horsemen and raceday teams enough space on a racecourse designed to hold 50,000 people then you can’t be trying very hard at all.

We have seen how this can be done in Australia and Ireland, Hong Kong and Singapore and we must implement the same here and spend April fine-tuning so that we can restart racing on May 1st as per the BHA plans. A month to sort out the recovery programme, deal with the medical cover and put our case to government should be ample.

The sooner we restart, the sooner the process of recovery will begin. The tens of thousands who rely on the racing industry to put bread on their tables have never been in such jeopardy and the opportunity to entertain a nation with cabin fever should also prove ample catalyst to push on hard even if it means suffering a few brickbats on Twitter.

April is the month of hope and we need hope like rarely before.


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