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Storms, floods and cost fears force four UK tracks to stay shut for the summer

Brighton, Carlisle, Nottingham and Worcester will have to wait to resume racing after failing to figure in the provisional summer fixture list.

None of the quartet appeared in the full programme of meetings for June, July and August that was published by the BHA on Friday, contingent on racing being given the go-ahead to resume behind closed doors on June 1.

Carlisle and Nottingham are owned by Jockey Club Racecourses, which revealed that its decision not to reopen them immediately was motivated by a need to minimise costs.

It has Haydock in the same region as Carlisle, and Nottingham in the same as Newmarket, and a JCR spokesperson said: "We're down to stage 61 fixtures at six of our courses between June and August in the new provisional fixture list, assuming racing is approved to resume.

"That's less than normal, but we'll be really pleased to get going again for the livelihoods in the sport and the enjoyment of racing fans. Without crowds, our income is hugely reduced and we need to live within our means.

"One part of keeping costs down is by reopening Nottingham in September and Carlisle in October, and running fixtures over the summer at six rather than eight courses, while still keeping them within the same JCR region. We look forward to the day we can be fully back up and running, but recognise it has to happen in stages."

JCR hopes that significant races at the two venues, such as the age-old Bell at Carlisle, will be saved and transferred to their sister tracks.

Storms at Brighton and floods at Worcester have caused those two Arena Racing Company courses to delay reopening.

Repair work planned on each site had to be suspended when Britain went into lockdown and that will now be undertaken over the coming months.

Arc, which hopes both courses will be fit to race in September, also decided it was uneconomical to reopen Ffos Las for just four Flat fixtures – that venue will resume racing over jumps in October.

Fixtures from all three sites will be temporarily hosted by other courses within the group and Mark Spincer, managing director of Arc's racing division, said: "The suspension of racing due to the Covid-19 outbreak has had a significant impact on the whole racing industry and many different aspects of racecourse operations, including the standard work that would take place at many sites over the course of the off-season.

"While we look forward to hosting race meetings behind closed doors, there is unfortunately too much work to do at both Brighton and Worcester to have them in a position to host the race meetings that they would normally in July and August. Equally, the timing is particularly unfortunate for the four Flat fixtures that Ffos Las would normally host in this period, hence the decision to defer reopening until October, and the start of the jumps season. 

"We are obviously well aware of the unique roles that all three tracks play within the racing world, and very much look forward to having them back in full operation as soon as possible."

Hexham, which lost two-thirds of its fixture list when jump racing was shut down until July 1, was disappointed not to pick up any extra meetings in the new list.

"I believe when they have put the new list together they have allocated the fixtures to the courses that would have been racing in July and August," racecourse manager Robert Whitelock said.

"Unfortunately we don't race in July and August so we didn't come in to the mix. I was hoping we might be looked favourably upon but we were outside the criteria so we're concentrating on being ready to get going in September."

 

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