COVID-19 Update: Why we are racing behind closed doors
As regulator, the welfare of greyhounds is our highest priority and will always be so. Likewise, the health and safety of people working within the sport is of the utmost importance. Everything we do at GBGB is guided by our responsibility towards our greyhounds and to those within the sport.
Due to the size and space of greyhound stadia, we are able to operate within the government guidelines on social distancing and with the minimum number of people involved. This means that, behind closed doors, we are able to operate a safe, effective form of racing that ensures our working dogs are able to continue in the life that they love.
As of today, open racing is also temporarily suspended to reduce movement of trainers and kennel staff between different locations. This is another important step that helps each stadium remain a safe environment in which to work and operate.
At each GBGB licensed racecourse, government directions and best practice are being followed in terms of hygiene and social distancing. This includes restrictions on the number of staff and licensed personnel at the stadium and how the kennelling process operates within our regulatory framework.
As regulator of the sport, GBGB is overseeing the implementation of these guidelines across stadia and these are a condition of licensing to operate. A full list of directions has been circulated to all those involved in the sport to ensure that best practice is followed and that racing can continue safely throughout England.
By continuing with racing, we are able to protect the livelihoods of trainers, kennel staff and stadia across the country at a time when many other businesses and industries are unable to carry out their normal activities. Crucially, the protection of these livelihoods safeguards the ability of trainers, owners and kennel staff to meet the welfare needs of their greyhounds. As a welfare organisation, this remains our utmost priority.
Many of the people employed in greyhound racing are self-employed – including trainers, kennel staff and veterinary surgeons – and anything we can do to protect their livelihoods, at a time when they are currently unable to access the greater financial protections that companies are, is vital. Racing directly and positively impacts on the income they receive and on which they rely to be able to look after their greyhounds.
At a time when no other sport is able to operate in the country, due to the level of human interaction it necessitates or the potential pressures it adds to the NHS, we firmly believe that greyhound racing provides a much needed form of sport and entertainment for many hundreds of thousands of followers across the country.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) made the decision to stop all horse racing in order to free up medical resources, doctors and ambulances, be they private sector or NHS, on the basis of on-site racecourse requirements and the potential impact on health service providers of jockeys being injured. Greyhound racing, with no human participants, does not impact upon the health service. We are confident that, with the additional precautionary measures in place, we are placing no burden on public services which are rightly needed elsewhere.
Likewise, for UK bookmakers, who are now solely operating online, greyhound racing protects jobs and revenue by providing a successful British sporting product. This is as vital to the continuation of the sport as other streams of revenue.
Ultimately, the welfare of greyhounds is integral to our sport and by continuing to race behind closed doors we are able to protect the revenue that provides for the welfare and care of our much-loved dogs.