Mark Spincer hopeful over racegoers attending the St Leger

ARC managing director Mark Spincer hopes some people may be allowed in for the group’s flagship St Leger meeting at Doncaster in September.

“It all depends on the Government, but I’d love to think that the last Classic of the year we may be able to have a number of people on site,” he said. “I don’t know what that number will be. Could it be 500 owners and trainers? Could it be some annual members? Could it be some paid admission? I have no idea.”

But Spincer, who was formerly executive director at Doncaster, said: “I can’t see it much before September, it’s a behind-closed-doors fixture list in June, July and August and I’d be quite surprised if that gets changed. But if the Government start to open up in July, who knows? Whoever thought bookmakers would be open in the middle of June? We definitely didn’t, that wasn’t in our thinking.

“But I don’t think admissions will get anywhere like back to normal for a number of months.”

So far all racing events are to be held behind closed doors as seen here at Newcastle.
So far all racing events are to be held behind closed doors as seen here at Newcastle. Credit: PA

Like Cruddace, Spincer pointed to the financial impact of spectators being barred during racing’s busiest period.

He said: “You talk about media and bookmakers, but in the height of the summer hospitality, paid admissions, food and beverage revenue and the rest is a large driver of the lifeline of all racecourses, he said.

“Be it Beverley’s ladies’ day, the Ebor Festival or Ponteftract’s Red Shirt night, it hits so many people.

“Then think of the charity partners we work with, the local hotels, pubs and restaurants, everybody is feeling it.”

ARC has opted not to plan fixtures at Brighton or Worcester until at least September as both tracks require repairs following storm and flood damage respectively, while it was deemed “uneconomical” to reopen Ffos Las for four Flat meetings.

Cruddace has also not ruled out further ARC tracks being sidelined this year.

He added: “I think it will take racecourses some time to recover, at least until the back end of next year.

“I think there will be a reshaping of the industry. I’m not quite sure how that is going to play out, but let’s take us (ARC) for example – at least until September we’re not racing at Brighton and we’re not racing at Worcester, and it could be we narrow even further the tracks we are racing on this year and when you get to that position you do have to wonder whether an individual racecourse, where you have got declining retail and media rights (with betting shop closures), is able to have a future.

“I sincerely hope there won’t be any casualties, but I do fear for some racecourses.”

Ahead of Newcastle’s meeting, Cruddace admitted to some nerves but had every faith the racecourse team at Gosforth Park was more than capable of executing a fixture to comply with all social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

He said: “I only got two hours sleep last night, I read the Sunday Times cover to cover.

“There is a pressure, but also I think it is a real privilege to be in a position to be the first sport back and we are acutely aware the eyes of the sporting public and other sports and the industry will be on us. Against that, we have planned meticulously and also the team at Newcastle I think are one of the best operational teams in the business.

“This is a pressure, but I don’t want to be anywhere else – everyone working here said they don’t want to be anywhere else.”