Sadly, it is confirmed that the government lockdown includes point to pointing, and we will have to halt until further notice. I know this will be a severe disappointment to many of you, particularly after such an excellent start to the season. This not only produced great racing, but it also demonstrated to all who came that our model was safe, and everyone was doing their best to comply. This has been recognised at higher levels, and gives us a strong platform to move forward when possible. There is already increasing pressure to allow those grassroots sports, which are safe, to start up early. The BHA has been working hard on our behalf to ensure that we are perceived as one of those sports, and I am feeling relatively confident that we will get going again in early December. As a result we are now working with those fixtures, which should have run over the next 4 weeks, to see how they can be slotted into the December programme to everyone’s advantage. In the meantime may we reassure you that those who entered for the Wheatland at Chaddesley will be refunded in full.
For those who feel that we should push on, I would just say that this is going to be a long season. We need to work with other sports and organisations to ensure that we are seen in a positive light so that we can make progress where possible. To go it alone would risk condemnation from many quarters including the media which will be looking for targets. Far better that we are seen to be complying with the national effort in order to move forward thereafter. We should add for those who are unaware, that going ahead not only requires compliance with national policy but also the agreement of the Local Authorities in which a fixture is run, and could very easily close it down at short notice. This possibility would automatically cause considerable uncertainty for both fixtures and participants.
To finish on a positive note, the first three fixtures of 20 framed races, have had 26 races with 261 runners and over 400 entries. Most of the races have been competitive, and I suspect we have seen a few stars for the future – certainly Tattersalls have been delighted and the new four-year-old only Maiden race which would have been run at Chaddesley looked excellent. Perhaps more surprisingly, we have seen a large number of entries and runners from the more traditional end of pointing. The most popular race entered was the RoR/The Jockey Club Veterans Conditions race at Chaddesley with 44 entries, whilst the Oriental Club Owner-Trainer series race at Maisemore had to be divided. The Intermediate and Restricted races have all had more than 8 runners, whilst the 6+ year old maiden runners have totalled 62. This indicates a really healthy start to the season, and we would ask that you all hold your nerve – we will be back before too long.