Racegoers return at Doncaster but pilot scheme remains in the balance

Wed 9 Sep 2020

Racegoers began to arrive at Doncaster before racing on Wednesday – but for how long the pilot scheme continues remains up in the air.

A Government announcement is due at 4pm, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson will give a news briefing outlining the latest guidelines for sporting events following the change in policy which restricts social gatherings from a maximum of 30 people to just six.

An estimated 2,500 spectators were expected on Wednesday, with that figure gradually rising to around 6,000 for the Pertemps St Leger on Saturday.

A similar pilot scheme planned for the final day of Glorious Goodwood last month was called off the day before the meeting.

Crowds return to Doncaster on Wednesday
Crowds return to Doncaster on Wednesday

Hopes had been high the four days on Town Moor – the first day of crowds since the coronavirus shutdown in March – would signal the beginning of a gradual return to something like normality.

Doncaster has made several changes to accommodate the return of paying customers, with designated zones allocated to various groups, including annual members and owners.

The pilot holds huge significance, not just for racing but sport as a whole, with the industry hoping everything goes smoothly which would aid the return of crowds to all sports.

While the cancellation of the scheme, should it happen, would be a hammer blow again, it is key Wednesday’s event goes without a hitch.

The track is run by Arena Racing Company and their PR and communications manager Sam Cone said it was “business as usual” until they hear anything different.

“We can’t comment on what may or may not be announced later,” said Cone.

“It’s business as usual as far as we’re concerned, we’ve just got to continue as we are until we hear anything different from Government.”

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