Pontefract gears up for return to hosting racing in June
OFFICIALS at Pontefract are looking forward to hosting Yorkshire’s first race meeting since the Covid-19 lockdown.
The Yorkshire Post revealed on Saturday that the West Yorkshire 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 at Newcastle next Monday for the first time since Wetherby’s meeting on March 17.
“We are largely a rural-based sport, we are an outdoor environment – both our training and racing environments are outdoor and pose lower level of risk and position us as a very different sport to football and rugby, for example,” he said.
“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.”
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