Talking Horses: fears in racing as jockey tests positive for coronavirus

Talking Horses: fears in racing as jockey tests positive for coronavirus


ritain’s horse racing community has something new to worry about, following the news that one of its number has tested positive for the coronavirus. The British Horseracing Authority has confirmed the news about an unnamed apprentice jockey, who, although they have not ridden competitively for some weeks, did recently attend a race meeting.

A spokesman said: “The BHA has worked with the health protection agency, the Professional Jockeys Association, the jockey and their yard to assist their employer in following government guidance and managing the jockey’s recent close contacts. A handful of people have been identified and asked to self-isolate for 14 days as a result. Further tests taken by close contacts have not returned any further positive results.

“The jockey in question has not taken a ride for a few weeks, though attended a recent race-meeting as a member of stable staff, prior to showing any symptoms and before their positive test. It remains important that everyone involved in the sport follows government and racing guidelines and protocols around social distancing and environment hygiene at all times.”

There is no official word on the jockey’s latest state of health. On one view, it could be thought surprising that the sport could last so long without a single confirmed positive test from among its participants, two months after racing resumed under carefully controlled conditions.

Racing folk have sometimes spoken proudly of not knowing anyone who has tested positive and of the advantages the sport derives at such a time from having a mainly rural base. But the concentration of stables and stable staff in certain areas could make the sport vulnerable to a localised spike. Those involved must hope this proves to be an isolated case.

In the US, officials at Del Mar cancelled racing for one weekend last month after positive Covid-19 tests were returned by 15 jockeys, described at the time as asymptomatic.

Injured jockeys raise £80,000

A group of nine jockeys, badly injured over the years by race-falls or road accidents, have banded together to raise more than £80,000 for the Injured Jockeys Fund. All nine have been supported at various times by the IJF and acted to support it at a time when many of its normal fundraising activities have been closed down because of the Covid-19 crisis.

The 9 Lives Challenge was the brainchild of Wayne Burton, who suffered life-changing injuries in a fall that broke his back at Exeter in 2008. He and the eight other beneficiaries combined to cover 560 miles by various means, in wheelchairs, on crutches, on bikes or by swimming; that is the distance it would take to journey between the IJF’s three rehab centres in Lambourn, Newmarket and Malton.

The Injured Jockey’s Fund rehabilitation and therapy facility at Peter O’Sullevan House, Newmarket.

Assisted by various big-name backers of the IJF, including Sir Anthony McCoy and Clare Balding, they gave themselves nine days to complete the challenge and did so on Saturday evening. “I’m just knackered,” says Burton, who contributed by covering 25 miles in his wheelchair and then celebrated by going fishing on Sunday.

“I’m still wound up for it, I feel like I should be out there. The amount of money we’ve raised is just a dream and I’m so glad to have helped raise a bit of awareness of what the Injured Jockeys Fund does for us.” Chris Cook

Monday’s best bets

There are 14 non-runners (so far) on the card at Haydock this afternoon, thanks to a change in the going to good to firm all over, including today’s original nap, Gloweth in the fillies’ handicap, writes Greg Wood.

In her absence, the obvious favourite is Keith Dalgleish’s Amber Storm, but while she was an impressive and improved winner at Musselburgh on 1 July, the time of the race was nothing special and it has yet to produce a subsequent winner. At the current prices, Saeed bin Suroor’s Picture Frame (4.45) makes more appeal at around 5-1 with Cieren Fallon taking off 3lb, particularly as the trainer’s string has been showing some signs of life recently.

The mile-and-a-half handicap is down to four runners from eight but still has an interesting bet in Songkran (5.15) against the odds-on Dreamweaver. George Boughey’s gelding is on a roll with three straights wins and the latest was the best yet, suggesting that he still has something in hand off his new mark off a 7lb higher mark.

Quick guide

Monday’s tips, by Greg Wood

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Haydock Park

1.45 Makthecat 2.15 Elegant Love 2.45 Solent Gateway 3.15 Arecibo 3.45 Rival 4.15 Proclaimer 4.45 Gloweth (nap) 5.15 Songkran 5.50 Do You Love Me


2.00 Tamaris 2.30 Lunar Deity 3.00 Lord Chapelfield 3.30 Jacinth 4.00 Terri Rules 4.30 Envisaging 5.00 Captain Claret 5.30 Le Reveur 6.00 Grandfather Tom


4.40 Olympic Theatre 5.10 Quickstep Lady 5.40 Magical Ride (nb) 6.15 Daschas 6.45 Alibaba 7.15 Rose Grey 7.45 Molinari 8.15 Flashing Approach

Magical Ride (5.40) should get the strong pace she needs in the sprint handicap at Windsor later, while course-and-distance winner Daschas (6.15) looked to be coming back to his best last time out.