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Horseracing’s return from lockdown quietly hailed a success in Great Yarmouth

PUBLISHED: 11:12 04 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:12 04 June 2020

Racing behind closed doors at Yarmouth Racecourse Picture: PA

Racing behind closed doors at Yarmouth Racecourse Picture: PA

PA Wire

The UK’s first turf track horse-racing since lockdown was delivered at Great Yarmouth behind closed doors.

Patrick Joseph McDonald has his temperature checked before entering Yarmouth Racecourse. PA Photo. Issue date: Wednesday June 3, 2020. See PA story RACING Yarmouth. Photo credit should read: Dan Abraham/PA Wire

Patrick Joseph McDonald has his temperature checked before entering Yarmouth Racecourse. PA Photo. Issue date: Wednesday June 3, 2020. See PA story RACING Yarmouth. Photo credit should read: Dan Abraham/PA Wire

Some ten races were staged at the seaside racecourse and broadcast live to a TV audience of thousands on Wednesday (June 3) more than two months after it was forced to close.

Inside the venue, however, there were just 300 people all crucial to the sport going ahead.

Glenn Tubby, executive director, said in nearly 20 years he had never experienced anything like it.

Whereas normally a capacity crowd of 7,000 would be cheering the action, it was all played out to empty stands.

Runners and riders in The Betway Handicap Stakes breaking from the stalls at Yarmouth Racecourse. PA Photo. Issue date: Wednesday June 3, 2020. See PA story RACING Yarmouth. Photo credit should read: Dan Abraham/PA WireRunners and riders in The Betway Handicap Stakes breaking from the stalls at Yarmouth Racecourse. PA Photo. Issue date: Wednesday June 3, 2020. See PA story RACING Yarmouth. Photo credit should read: Dan Abraham/PA Wire

He said: “The excitement of the racing was still there.

“It still felt and looked the same on the TV because you don’t see a lot of the crowd.

“Everyone was really pleased to be back.

“You could just tell. It is everyone’s livelihood and everyone’s passion

Guess Who trainer Gay Kelleway with her racing colours face mask at Yarmouth Racecourse Picture: PAGuess Who trainer Gay Kelleway with her racing colours face mask at Yarmouth Racecourse Picture: PA

“What was missing was the noise.

“This is a step and a start but there is still more to go.

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“Until we get the public back on site we cannot get back to normal.”

Ginger Max,ridden by Franny Norton (third right), on their way to winning the Betway Live Casino Handicap at Yarmouth Picture: PAGinger Max,ridden by Franny Norton (third right), on their way to winning the Betway Live Casino Handicap at Yarmouth Picture: PA

The event saw ten races - three more than normal - staged behind closed doors with top Newmarket trainer John Gosden celebrating two winners.

There were no on-course bookmakers.

Numbers comprised some 40 jockeys, 30 trainers and 108 horses, each with their own stable hands.

Everyone entering the racecourse was temperature checked and pre-registered.

Trainer John Gosden at Yarmouth Racecourse Picture: PATrainer John Gosden at Yarmouth Racecourse Picture: PA

Social distancing was not a problem with so few people in such a large space.

All public fixtures until the end of August have been cancelled at the track.

Instead the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is allowing 12 races to go ahead behind closed doors in Yarmouth with two evening races next week June 10 and 11.

Mr Tubby said he was proud Yarmouth was the first turf track to host live racing - due to its good surface and proximity to Newmarket.

“It went very very well,” he added.

“We could not have asked for a better day.”

The racecourse closed on March 19 due to coronavirus.

A meet at Newcastle on Monday (June 1) marked the first British meeting since Wetherby and Taunton raced on March 17.


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