HomeLifestyleCheltenham Festival boost as racing chief discusses plans for fans returning after Christmas
Cheltenham Festival boost as racing chief discusses plans for fans returning after Christmas
FANS could be back at horse racing events after Christmas and in the build up to spring in a boost for the Cheltenham Festival.
The British Horse Racing Authority chief exec Nick Rust is hopeful pilot events will begin shortly after Christmas.
The governemnt are set to give an update on the lockdown in England next week and set out plans for December and January.
England looks set to move into a tiered system where areas with higher infection rates will see more industries shut down.
But racing chiefs are hopeful of getting fans back at events in the build up to spring.
That will be music to the ears of Cheltenham Festival goers with the 2021 festival due to start on March 16.
Rust said: “We have been working closely with government to make sure we’re at the forefront of any pilots with regards to spectators returning.
"It’s a difficult message to come out and say we’re returning to pilots for sport if we’re telling people they can only have one day at Christmas with one other household.
“DCMS is working hard to make sure these pilots are on and we’re pretty confident we’ll have some pilots certainly in the period immediately after Christmas and leading up to the spring period.”
Cheltenham was one of the last mass fan events to go ahead as usual this year with sport across Europe beginning to be affected in March.
And the talk of fans returning to sport next year will ramp up the excitement for 2021 festival.
Racing is also set to receive some £40m in loans as part of the winter aid package from the government.
But details on how that money can be spread through the sport are yet to be worked out.
Rust added: “We don’t know the details yet, we’re expecting some tomorrow, but we’ve been told that they’ll be on extremely favourable terms.
“We’re hoping and expecting based on what has been announced for Rugby League that the loans will be for probably a period of up to five years for repayment, hopefully with no repayment required in the first year, and with low interest rates.
“The government has listened to us, once again racing has worked closely together with a single voice into government and we need this assistance to help get us through. If we don’t take that up across the sport, if I was in government I’d be wondering why.
“The government is making this money available to us. We have asked for financial support. If we cannot deploy that financial support appropriately across the sport we’re going to be in difficulty aren’t we?
"There’s no danger of us failing to come up with a plan for this money.”
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