01 June 2020

BHA officials keen to ensure continued compliance with protocols in racing resumption

01 June 2020

Brant Dunshea, the British Horseracing Authority’s chief regulatory officer, expects to keep in close contact with the Government in order to ensure the sport’s continued compliance with measures designed to combat coronavirus.

Racing resumed behind closed doors at Newcastle on Monday, with the BHA having issued a 33-page protocols document with which participants must comply.

Strict hygiene and social distancing rules are being enforced, with limited personnel on track and facial coverings required by a variety of attendees, including jockeys.

Dunshea had not been contacted by Government on Monday lunchtime as the new measures were employed for the first time, but future conversations are expected.

He said: “I’m the named Covid-19 officer for the sport and what comes with that is the responsibility to respond to any requests from the authorities in relation to our compliance with the procedures we’ve put in place that are specifically shaped around Government guidance.

“I haven’t had any contact myself today and I haven’t actually asked Dr (Jerry) Hill (the BHA’s chief medical adviser) if he’s had any contact from the authorities, but we are very much operating in a way where we expect that they may very well contact us or visit to ensure compliance, so that’s why we’re taking things so seriously.”

Dunshea also feels racing is well placed should Government decided a tightening of restrictions is necessary in the future.

He explained: “Our plan from the outset contemplated a range of scenarios, so if necessary we have a model that could be implemented in the event that there were further restrictions imposed at some point in the future.

“Of course our process has very much been one of collaboration with Public Health England and the Government, so we have options available to us and we will focus our efforts at the moment on delivering a behind-closed-doors approach as best we can with the model we are operating.

“If we need to take further measures, we absolutely will if it means we can continue racing.”

Dunshea reported some initial IT issues concerning the checking-in process at Newcastle on Monday morning were overcome.

He said: “We had some teething issues this morning, a software solution to assist the manual logistics of people arriving on course crashed overnight, so around 6am I got a call to say we would need to manage that process manually.

“IT got on the case and they’ve now resolved that, so the checking in process seems to have worked reasonably seamlessly without too many issues.

“In terms of the procedures, it’s a big change for everyone to adjust. People are unsure in terms of where they need to move around the racecourse, so the racecourse has got staff here who are helping people and guiding them around, we’ve got people doing the same. We’re just reminding people of all the various responsibilities.”

Temperature tests before entering the venue are the final phase in the admittance procedure and Dunshea said no-one had failed that crucial examination.

He said: “When I asked that question, I was told nobody has failed (the temperature test).

“A number of people have been turned away because they hadn’t completed some of the administrative processes, but we have got a helpdesk that’s enabling people to work through that if they had difficulties.”

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