Racing chiefs and Royal Ascot cautious over talk of crowds return after Chester unveil plans to welcome back 5000 in May

RACING chiefs have said any return of crowds must come with wider approval and not before.

It comes as Chester revealed plans to welcome back 5000 punters on course as soon as May.

But the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Royal Ascot chiefs have said they must first get the thumbs up from the government.

Chester say they can safely host a crowd using a mass testing system with punters swabbed on arrival and given their results back 'in minutes'.

And they have targeted their three-day Boodles May Festival to see fans return to the historic Roodee.

Whether it means racing fans can expect to be back on track in the coming months remains in the air though.

And Ascot are yet to unveil any similar plans for Royal Ascot, which would take place a month after Chester's May fixture.

Ascot's layout is much larger than Chester and would be easier to arrange social distancing in separate enclosures.

But Nick Smith, head of racing at Ascot, is not getting carried away.

He said: "Our plans will be determined by the route map out of lockdown and governmental advice.

"There is a long time until June and plans will develop in due course, and we will be informed by the major events that take place before us."


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And the BHA confirmed that any return would only come within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's framework.

A spokesperson said: "British racing continues to liaise with Government regarding how we believe the return of spectators can be managed safely, as it was at events in December.

"Their return is dependent on the attendance of spectators at sporting events being permitted under the UK Government roadmap for reopening.

"Any racecourse proposals as to how they will manage the admission of spectators would need to be in line with DCMS criteria."

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