Master planner Prescott keeping positive as Newmarket faces unprecedented times

Sir Mark Prescott says he has not seen anything like the current coronavirus lockdown since the three-day week which was introduced by the then Conservative government to reduce electricity consumption and conserve coal stocks back in 1974.

The master of Heath House was one of over 70 Newmarket trainers still going about their business on the Heath on Wednesday morning albeit in a low-key way.

Unlike many others who had their horses approaching peak fitness prior to the suspension of racing on March 17, Prescott is carrying on in his usual routine as he rarely has runners on turf until May or June anyway.

He said: "This lockdown reminds me of the three-day week back in the 70s when you had electric only every other day and you couldn't take more than £50 out of the country as I recall. It was really inconvenient, went on quite a while and you couldn't drive over 50 miles an hour."
Prescott has capacity for 50 horses and is lucky to have the likes of Cheveley Park Stud, Kirsten Rausing and Middleham Park Racing on his roster but also some smaller owners too.

He said: "I rang all my owners as usual on Sunday and most of them were fine but there were a couple sounding a bit panicky and I'd never heard them like that before.

"We've sent some of the more backward ones home to save their owners money and are down to around 40 horses now."

With tongue firmly in cheek, Prescott added: "What is most annoying is my horses will be ready to start off as we usually do in late May or June when it could be every bugger else's horses will be running too!

"I expect this lockdown to go on longer than three weeks but we are doing everything we can to help get through it. We are alright for social distancing as we only have 14 members of staff whereas the bigger yards would have issues with it."