Following the First Minister’s update today which confirmed the easing of Scotland’s lockdown to the next phase, Perth will continue preparations to hold racing behind closed doors from 21st July.
Working with the Scottish Government, Scottish Racing and British Horseracing Authority, we are following all protocols for racing behind closed doors, which includes specific guidance to help safeguard the health of employees and participants in a controlled and managed return to racing. We have also been engaging with Perth and Kinross Council’s safety advisory group as is normal practice in advance of racing each year.
While we prepare to host behind closed doors racing on 21st July, 11th August and 30th August, we look forward to learning best practice from our colleagues at Ayr, Musselburgh and Hamilton Park who will restart from next week. For avoidance of any doubt, these fixtures are not open to racegoers however all behind closed doors meetings can be viewed live on Racing TV (www.racingtv.com/join). At our meeting on 30th August the ITV Racing cameras shall be at Perth for the very first time to broadcast three races on a card for which an enhanced race programme shall be framed given the spotlight.
Hazel Peplinski, Perth Racecourse Chief Executive, said: “This has rightly been a careful and cautious process, with the health of the public always the greatest priority. However we are delighted to be able to play a small part in the resumption of the wider horse-racing industry with the significant positive impact this shall bring to the leisure sector.
“It is refreshing to once again have a fixture on the horizon to be proactively planning for after such a long period of uncertainty. There is a substantial amount of operational work involved in meeting the full compliance requirements for a behind closed doors fixture. Our full-time team remains at a reduced capacity at present but we can now fully focus on our restart date of 21st July. Every protocol and procedure needs scrutinised in minute detail so that it is site specific for Perth even though the same processes have worked so well at other racecourses south of the border since racing resumed there on 1st June.”
Hazel continued: “To be honest though what really gets our team at Perth buzzing is the idea of offering a fun day out for all our regular racegoers who really enjoy a day at the races and all that that entails. Whilst it is all very well to be planning for racing’s resumption next month, it will only begin to feel anything like normal when we are able to welcome our fantastic crowds back to Perth. Our whole financial model is based on attracting full attendances and hospitality – these are the elements of our business that make us tick.
“Perth is renowned as a venue that creates a fantastic party atmosphere for people looking for a fun day out in the fresh outdoors and wishing to enjoy an authentic sport. It is the live crowds that make the atmosphere so whilst racing behind closed doors is an essential stepping stone to protect the economics of the industry, it shall just not be the same until we can welcome back our key missing ingredient which is our loyal fan base. Our racegoers obviously also generate our turnstile revenue which has been completely obliterated. The pandemic descended at the worst possible time just before our season start. However, what has been a godsend has been the proportion of our advance ticket holders that have opted to transfer their ticket value on to 2021. Not only is that a heart-warming nod of confidence in Perth’s future but it is also making a significant difference to the management of our cashflow through these troubling times. We are embarking on the process of refunding our eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth cancelled fixtures of the year and if those customers build on this trend it shall make the world of difference, albeit full refunds shall all be honoured if requested.
“I’d like to thank everyone for their on-going support and their patience from having been starved of live horse-racing at Perth since September last year. It shall make a return to racing with crowds permitted all the sweeter when that day finally returns – I shall never take it for granted ever again. I am yearning to see the traffic flowing in on a raceday once more – I would even take a rainy day!”