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Friday 26 April 2019

Lockdown has cost industry £5m

Dai Walters
Dai Walters

Racing's equine-flu lockdown may have already cost the British industry around £5million - according to leading independent expert Professor Tom Cannon.

Professor Cannon runs the Thoroughbred Horseracing Industries MBA course at Liverpool University, and is well placed to attempt to put a figure on the ongoing cost to racing of no action on the track.

"You've got to look at different parts of the industry - and as yet, nothing lost is on the list of the BHA's major events," said Professor Cannon. "We've lost around 20 meetings so far, so about 120 races. The biggest issue there will be gate receipts.

"Attendances would only be in the low thousands rather than the high thousands you'd get at somewhere like Cheltenham - so I would have thought it wouldn't be much more than £2-3million lost.

"You then have all the other things that are associated with that because there are lots of logistical costs. First off there are all the tests being carried out - they might cost another £500,000. Then there's the question of prize money. Most of it will be reallocated, but I would have thought you'd be talking somewhere in the low millions. There's only really been Newbury that has been lost of the bigger meetings.

"I would estimate that the hit so far to racing would be round about £5million."

Leading owner Dai Walters disagreed with the British Horseracing Authority decision to suspend racing during the outbreak.

Walters - who has seen two of his leading Cheltenham Festival hopes, Al Dancer and Angels Breath, miss engagements in recent days - said: "In every walk of life you get flu and things like that. I employ 500 people, and if one or two of them are ill I send them home - I don't just stop the whole operation altogether.

"Every yard has boxes away from the main stables, where they can isolate any horses that get ill. Fair enough, close down the yards with horses that have picked this up, but to close down racing altogether is idiotic in my view - they've lit a fire that they can't put out."

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