Pontefract to host first race meeting since lockdown
OFFICIALS at Pontefract are looking forward to hosting Yorkshire’s first race meeting since the Covid-19 lockdown.
It was revealed on Saturday that the track is due to race on June 10 as part of the sport’s resumption.
The behind-closed-doors meeting is still subject to the Government giving its formal backing this week for racing to resume on June 1.
Even though Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has indicated that competitive sport is unlikely to return until mid-June, racing believes it has the necessary public health protocols in place to satisfy Ministers.
Pontefract’s chief operating officer Richard Hammill said: “We’re excited to get back racing, although obviously we’re waiting for Government approval for the sport to resume.
“We have got two early slots, on June 10 and 15, so we are deep in the operational planning of staging a raceday so that we are ready to go.”
Pontefract is leased from Wakefield Council and while the public is usually allowed to access the area, Hammill and his team will need to close the park during racing in order to meet the BHA requirements.
He explained: “Pontefract Park is owned by Wakefield Council and we lease the track, but under the lease we can close off the park and secure the area, so we have been working closely with the council on that.
“You will notice we have two midweek afternoon slots rather than weekends or evenings, as we felt racing at those times would limit any impact on the residents of Pontefract.”
Meanwhile, Brant Dunshea, chief regulatory officer at the British Horseracing Authority, believes racing can resume next Monday for the first time since a meeting at Wetherby on March 17.
“I’m incredibly confident that we will be racing on June 1. We can’t control what decisions Government make, but we are incredibly confident. We are working hard and planning towards June 1 being our resumption date and we are all very excited about that.”
Meanwhile, a sport’s public health blueprint has been released, outlining a series of measures to be employed should racing get the Government go-ahead.
This includes jockeys, trainers, stable staff and valets all wearing face masks.
Other measures include completion of an online education module and screening of all participants before they are allowed to attend a meeting.