Royal Ascot and Epsom Derby set for crowds of 10,000 this summer

Major summer racing fixtures like Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby could have up to 10,000 fans on-course.

Boris Johnson revealed yesterday that stadiums and venues will be able to welcome back the public from May 17.

Horse racing meetings are set to benefit, along with Euro 2020, Wimbledon and the final day of Premier League football on May 23.

The Covid-19 restrictions will be eased gradually, the Government said, with up to 10,000 people or a quarter of the capacity permitted to attend venues – whichever is lower.

Smaller stadiums will be limited to either 4,000 people or half of their capacity.

The rules give hope that the two-day Epsom Derby meeting, from June 4, plus Royal Ascot (June 15-19), will have a substantial crowd.

However the plans come too late for the Cheltenham Festival in March, held just before the first coronavirus lockdown in 2020.

In response to the latest rules, the British Horseracing Authority said it will also work with the Government to allow owners to return to the track as soon as possible.

Their statement added: "Whilst the publication of dates is a very positive sign, the absence of spectators from our big events is continuing to put a strain on racing’s revenues.

"This has been exacerbated by the closure of betting shops. Our financial discussions with government are ongoing."

Earlier this month, Chester Racecourse announced plans for up to 5,000 punters at the track at the Boodles May Festival.

A sector leading mass lateral flow testing programme would see racegoers checked for Covid-19 on arrival at the course.

Chief Executive of Chester Race Company, Richard Thomas, said that they could deliver "results within minutes.”

In December, racecourses did allow fans through the turnstiles, until they were shut again as a result of the third coronavirus lockdown.

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