Doncaster crowds pilot cut short as the last three days of the St Leger Festival will be held behind closed doors

Doncaster crowds pilot cut short as the last three days of the St Leger Festival will be held behind closed doors

RACING will go back behind closed doors at Doncaster from tomorrow in a big blow to the sport.

An estimated crowd of 2,500 punters made a welcome return on the opening day of the St Leger Festival on Wednesday as part of pilot scheme for sporting events.

But with coronavirus cases on the rise, the course have been instructed to cut the pilot event short with the gates set to be closed to racegoers once again from tomorrow.

Mark Spincer, managing director of Arena Racing Company Racing Division, said: “We have had confirmation this afternoon from the local authority that we will not be able to admit a crowd to the final three days of the St Leger Festival.

"The race meeting will continue on a ‘behind closed doors’ basis, as per all other race meetings currently taking place in Britain.

"This pilot event represents a hugely important step not just for our business but for the whole of British racing as well as the sports and hospitality industries as a whole.

"We do, of course, fully understand and respect the decision and will be contacting all of our customers booked for the remaining three days as a matter of urgency.

"We were pleased to work closely with Doncaster Council to set up this pilot event in the manner that we had but matters beyond anyone’s control, and the data that regarding local rates that have come to light today, mean we will not be able to welcome a crowd from Thursday onwards.

"We would, of course, like to thank all of our customers for their support in the run up to this event as well as our staff who have done a monumental job in preparing the site.”

Damian Allen, the chief exec at Doncaster Council, added: “I would like to place on record my thanks to the management team at Doncaster Racecourse for their meticulous planning for the festival.

"They have been working positively with us and have put in significant amount of hours and hard work to prepare for and manage the event.

"The latest development of how the festival is to be held is based on public health and public safety advice and that has to be heeded.

"The St Leger does have a special significance for Doncaster and I do hope the festival is enjoyed remotely this year and indeed with the anticipated return of spectators for the entire festival in 2021.”

More to follow…

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