Kelso course boss says public protection should ease a path back into sport

The Minister for public health, sport and wellbeing, Joe Fitzpatrick, chaired a video conference today (Tuesday) with representatives of the horse racing industry, football and rugby in Scotland.

Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 7:00 pm
Work taking place at Kelso racetrack earlier today (Tuesday), where grounds taff have come off furlough to resume maintenance work and are maintaining appropriate social distancing.

The purpose was to share information regarding the impact of coronavirus on the sports and preparations for the resumption of sport.

Jonathan Garratt, managing director of Kelso Racecourse, represented Scottish racing and said: “We’ve taken part in a very constructive discussion. Everyone present shares the view that we all want sport to return as quickly as possible, but the first consideration is the protection of public health, participants and customers.

“The sports minister was very helpful in outlining some of the current public health advice, and everyone present shared a commitment to continue to work together to ensure that, when sport is ready to resume, we have all the appropriate controls in place.

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“I know my colleagues at the five Scottish racecourses, as well as the many training establishments in the region, will share the view that a safe resumption of racing, at the appropriate time, will help safeguard livelihoods and provide a huge boost to communities, but that safety is everyone’s primary concern.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Scottish Government, sportscotland and our colleagues in other sports.

“Many people are keen to know when horseracing can resume, but this meeting was very much about why it is important and how we are creating a framework for it to happen.”

While the majority of the staff at Kelso Racecourse were initially furloughed, the lack of rain in April has necessitated a return to work for groundstaff who are able to maintain social distancing measures while they undertake their tasks outdoors on the track.

Said Mr Garratt: “While the other four racecourses in Scotland are adapting their plans for staging fixtures this summer, we are repairing the track after a winter of racing on heavy ground and we’re looking to return in optimum condition in September.”

Paying tribute to Delly Innes, the Scottish racing executive who is currently furloughed, he added: “Like all businesses, we have been obliged to furlough staff while there is no revenue coming in. Delly has developed excellent relationships within the Scottish Parliament and it is down to her dedicated work over previous years that we are able to participate in important conversations like the one we’ve enjoyed today with the Minister for Sport.”