HORSE RACING has returned to Scotland behind closed doors.

Scottish Racing and the British Horseracing Authority were pleased to announce the resumption of racing in Scotland, following confirmation by the Scottish Government that professional sport can resume in line with the move to Phase 2 of its Covid-19 route map.

Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, Joe FitzPatrick MSP, said: “I’m sure that this news will be welcomed by racing fans across the country. The resumption of professional sports is another step towards some level of normality and its safe resumption is only possible thanks to a constructive relationship between the Scottish Government and bodies like Scottish Racing."

The first fixture was held at the start of this week at Ayr Racecourse, with a further 24 races planned before the end of August.

Horseracing is Scotland’s second most attended sport annually, supporting 3,400 full-time equivalent jobs and generating over £300 million annually for the Scottish economy.

Horseracing has now resumed safely across Great Britain, in line with the detailed protocols designed by the BHA and wider racing industry, including physical distancing requirements, medical screening processes and a range of measures to reduce the risk of requiring use of NHS resources.

Chief executive of the BHA, Nick Rust said: “I am very pleased that Scottish racing is returning safely from Monday at Ayr racecourse, ensuring that our truly nationwide sport can resume in line with the protocols which have been working well since our resumption at Newcastle on June 1.

“It is a sign of horseracing’s preparedness that we are the first major sport to return in Scotland as the recovery from Covid-19 continues. We are extremely grateful for the support of the Scottish Government in enabling this risk-managed return.”

Manager of Scottish Racing, Delly Innes, said: “We are delighted to welcome the return of racing in Scotland after a long, but necessary, absence as Scotland faced the challenges of Covid-19. This has been an immensely challenging time for our five excellent racecourses, but this is an important first step on the road to recovery, and we will be working hard to ensure all our participants are familiar with, and adhere to Scottish rules and guidance where these differ from UK guidance.”

“We are raring to go with an exciting programme of fixtures in the months ahead which will help support the wider Scottish and British racing industry, and provide entertainment to viewers across the country.”