By Andrew Atkinson
May 17 will go down in racing fans diaries following the return of spectators for the first time in almost five months amid COVID-19 lockdown behind closed doors meetings.
Carlisle, Redcar, Ffos Las, Windsor and Leicester stage meetings on May 17, with initial capacity limited to 4,000 or 50% after COVID-19 easing of restrictions.
Masks are mandatory indoors, with certain venues notifying attendees that admittance is via ticket only, with cash payment not available to enter.
On-course bookmakers will be back on tracks and drinking will be allowed, while seated at a table.
Currently restrictions in England will last until at least June 21. Thereafter the government’s scheduled coronavirus programme is to see capacity crowds return. Hoeevrr UK PM Boris Johnson announced the new Indian variant of coronavirus could jeopardise plans.
In Scotland a maximum of 500 spectators can attend meetings from May 17. Attendance will be limited to 250 to attend the first meeting at Musselburgh on May 25. Restrictions have not presently eased to allow spectators to attend meetings in Wales and Ireland.
Ahead of the weekend Friday, May 21 and Saturday, May 22 two-day meetings at Haydock Park and Goodwood are taking place, with showcased Listed races, including Epsom Classic trials, the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood and the Casumo Best Odds Guaranteed Temple Stakes at Haydock, with the latter capacity being 3,000 and Goodwood limited to 4,000 racegoers.
Royal Ascot features a four day meeting in June with the Gold Cup – Ladies Day – on June 17.