SCOTTISH COLUMN By Gordon Brown
After just two days of action behind closed doors earlier this week, all racing in Britain has been suspended until the end of April.
Given the coronavirus outbreak is forecast to escalate, everyone in racing - as well as related businesses - are bracing themselves for a severe economic impact.
Delly Innes, manager of Scottish Racing, is well aware of what the implications of a prolonged shutdown of the sport could entail.
After football, horseracing is Scotland’s second biggest spectator sport and Innes said:
“It generates £300m annually for the Scottish economy and employs 3,400 staff, which is nearly as many as the fishing industry.
“It’s not just going to have a huge economic effect on the racecourses, but a serious knock-on effect as there is also nearly £33m spent off-course when people visit pubs and restaurants before and after going racing.”
There may be a blank racing calendar for the next month or possibly longer, but horses still need to be exercised, fed and mucked out and Innes added:
“Some stable staff are understandably concerned about their own future and we will be in touch with the UK and Scottish Governments to see how people can be financially supported.
“It is a situation we will be assessing each and every day and we can also offer emotional support through other organisations such as the Injured Jockeys Fund and Racing Welfare.”
For anyone who has purchased tickets for fixtures, there is the option - instead of a refund - of supporting that particular racecourse by requesting an exchange for a future meeting once racing eventually resumes.
“Everyone is doing their utmost to ensure their business survives in the current climate but at the same time you’ve got to look to the future.”
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