The November meeting at Cheltenham racecourse is beginning today, starting off the three days of jump racing.
The event will be behind closed doors this year due to COVID-19, with only a strict limited number of people allowed onto the course. The media personnel have also been heavily reduced for the meeting, to allow for social distancing.
The Jockey Club, along with government officials, were heavily criticised earlier this year for allowing The Cheltenham Festival in March to go ahead. With around 150,000 people in attendance, it was the last large public event before the country went into a national lockdown.
Talking to BBC News, Doctor Bharat Pankhania, an expert in infectious disease and public health, said events like Cheltenham Festival: “without a doubt create a source for spreading infection. […] The basic science is there”
The Jockey Club have now implemented strict protocols to ensure the safety of those on course: ‘Access to the racecourse will be extremely limited and only authorised personnel will be able to attend. The names of those planning to attend on a given day must be submitted in advance and if the name is not on the list, that individual will not be permitted entrance under any circumstances. There is a three stage health check that everyone will have to pass before they are allowed onto courses.’
Attendees must complete an online educational course about the Coronavirus as part of the Jockey Club’s new ‘screening’ measures. They must also complete an online health questionnaire within the 7 days prior to them going to the racecourse.
The first race of the day will be the The Markel Insurance Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle Race, followed by a further five races, with the going currently being good to soft.