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Newmarket under consideration to host regional racing in May

Newmarket’s Rowley Mile is thought to be one of the racecourses under consideration to host regional racing from next month.

The sport is currently in the midst of a six-week suspension until the end of April following revised coronavirus-related Government guidance surrounding social distancing measures and the gathering of crowds.

A series of discussions have taken place about potential methods of ensuring that the resumption of racing is possible, one of which is holding regional meetings behind closed doors.

Newmarket's Rowley Mile. Picture by Mark Westley
Newmarket's Rowley Mile. Picture by Mark Westley

The thinking behind keeping these regionalised is that it will limit the movement of the jockeys, trainers and staff to a minimum.

A source confirmed to the Journal that Newmarket is one of the potential host venues, with suggestions that Newcastle and Newbury are also in contention to ensure that meetings can be spread across the country.

“From a racing point of view, Newmarket’s number one priority in recent weeks has been about maintaining the racing surface and facility so that they are good to go whenever the sport gets the green light,” the source said.

“Michael (Prosser, Clerk of the Course) and his team have been working very hard for the resumption, whenever that may be.

“The idea of Newmarket being one of the courses is on the table and its readiness to host is not in question.”

The proposal has received the backing of Newmarket-based trainer Charlie Fellowes, providing that it is implemented with health and safety at the forefront.

“As long as we make sure that it does not impact on public health or put people in harm’s way, it would be good to see racing back next month in Newmarket,” said Fellowes, who is chairman of the Newmarket Open Weekend.

“It has to be safe and sensible otherwise it is a non starter.

“There are a huge amount of livelihoods in the balance within the racing industry at the moment and while I am very aware that is the same for pretty much every industry across the world, we may have the opportunity to do this safely.

“It will need looking into still, and as I say it cannot endanger the public.

“It will be racing like we have never seen before, but any racing would be great.”

Meanwhile, the Jockey Club has placed around 350 of its staff on the Government’s furlough scheme.