Qatar Goodwood Festival 2020 Announcement

17th July 2020

British Horseracing welcomes today’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announcement that one of the pilot events to welcome crowds back to elite sporting venues in England will take place on 1st August at Goodwood Racecourse, as part of the Qatar Goodwood Festival. The pilot is part of the Government’s fifth stage in the Return to Elite Competition protocol.

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This is potentially an important step forward in the sporting economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the industry is grateful for the support of DCMS in selecting horseracing to be one of the sports to host a pilot event, two months after we returned safely behind closed doors.

The RCA-led Stage 5 industry working group have also worked tirelessly in recent weeks to enable this pilot event to take place, reflecting the unique characteristics of racecourses as outdoor sporting venues.

This event will be a pilot to implement new safety protocols developed by DCMS, the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) and Racing to implement new safety protocols to allow elite sporting venues to welcome back spectators. An event for 5,000 people, plus participants, has been designed for the safety of all participants and racegoers. Attendance will initially be offered to Goodwood Racecourse Annual Members and their guests. The day will be carefully planned in conjunction with the local government and other relevant bodies to ensure that the event carries minimal risk to attendees and the local community. 

The sport recognises the continued support of racehorse owners through this extremely challenging period and as part of the pilot, new initiatives which may increase the number of owners on course and increase the level of hospitality offered will be trialled.

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For all racegoers attending the event, a code of conduct must be acknowledged and agreed in advance. This sets out expectations on the behaviour and actions of everyone involved to maintain hygiene levels and social distancing, as well as outlining the facilities and initiatives put in place by the racecourse to enable this. Further information will be published in due course.

Following the pilot event, the Stage 5 industry group will conduct a thorough debrief to understand which measures worked well and which require further refinement.

Whilst collectively we share the excitement of all involved in hosting this event, it will not be possible for all racecourses to immediately follow suit and welcome crowds. This will be subject to a successful debrief, finalising the extensive protocols involved and further permission granted from Government.

David Armstrong, RCA Chief Executive and Chair of the welcoming crowds industry group, commented: “We welcome the fact that horseracing is to be selected as one of the pilot events to welcome back crowds and my team and I acknowledge the great responsibility upon us.

“The safety protocols involved will be stringent and the Goodwood Racecourse team are in a fantastic place to implement them. The sport has come together to offer support to ensure the pilot event provides us with sufficient learnings that others may follow in time. These learnings will allow us to draft industry-wide protocols fir the wider scale return of crowds as soon as we are able.

“Crowds bring a wonderful atmosphere to a raceday and many businesses associated with racecourses are reliant upon them. I sincerely hope that all involved enjoy their day— our focus now turns to supporting the Goodwood team in what is a landmark day for the sport.”

Adam Waterworth, Sport Managing Director at the Goodwood Estate, commented: “We are delighted that the Qatar Goodwood Festival has been selected as a pilot event for the return of crowds. It marks an important day for the sports industry following a few challenging months.

“Our Annual Members have continued to support us throughout, for which we are enormously grateful. It is therefore fantastic to offer them the opportunity to witness racing on The Downs again.

“The Goodwood team will ensure the racecourse adheres to Government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene. We hope that this will be the next step in ensuring crowds for future sporting events.”

All five days of the Qatar Goodwood Festival will be broadcasted live on ITV and Racing TV. Find out how you can get involved with #GloriousAtHome by visiting our Qatar Goodwood Festival homepage and by keeping an eye on our social channels.

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