Amateur riders ruled out in Britain from Saturday

Wed 13th Jan 2021, 16:22

© Photo Healy Racing

Amateur riders will be prevented from competing under rules in Britain as of Saturday, due to the ongoing rise in Covid-19 infections.

As the Government tries to suppress the virus by introducing further restrictions, amateur riders are the latest to be affected.

The move has been made by the British racing industry’s Covid-19 steering group, which constantly reviews coronavirus protocols to determine how racing can continue to strengthen its approach.

The group has reached its decision because it “is in line with Government restrictions around the definition of elite sport and the associated suspension of grassroots sport”.

Races already in the calendar will have their conditions changed by the British Horseracing Authority to reflect the current situation.

Top amateur David Maxwell, who owns the horses he rides and is on the verge of returning to fitness following a serious neck injury, acknowledges the reasons for the change, even though it will dash his own plans.

He said: “It’s disappointing — but the thing about the whole situation, which I’ve found from the very start, is that you start from a position where something bad has happened to you.

“I’m initially thinking ‘I’ve got 15 of these to ride in hunter chases, poor me’ — but then you start thinking about the people who have lost their jobs and their businesses and all the people who have lost their lives.”

Maxwell himself has been affected personally by the pandemic, as his driver and friend Mohammed Sidat died of coronavirus recently.

He added: “Poor old Mohammed died — so in the grand scheme of this pandemic, amateurs not being allowed to ride is a small inconvenience in the scale of what is going on.

“It’s annoying — but with what is going on, it is small potatoes.”

Hunter chases, previously the domain of amateur jockeys, will continue to be programmed but will be open to professional riders only.

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