Pontefract Park to close on race days to support ‘behind closed door’ racing
Pontefract Park will be temporarily closing to the public on six separate days this summer to enable Pontefract Racecourse to hold 'behind closed door' race meetings.
Following the outbreak of coronavirus, the Race Company at Pontefract Park has been unable to hold any race meetings so far this season, which usually runs from April to October.
The only way for the season to resume is for races to be held behind closed doors and to do this the park must close on race days to members of the public between 7am and 7pm. This action is required to meet the strict government regulations which are being administered by the British Horse Racing Authority (BHA).
Under the terms of the lease, the Race Company has the right to close the park during a race meeting and this is the first time in their history that they have been forced to do so, in what are unprecedented circumstances.
The Race Company has been working with the BHA to arrange for horse racing to take place behind closed doors on the following dates:
- Wednesday 10 June
- Monday 15 June
- Tuesday 7 July
- Thursday 23 July
- Friday 31 July
- Friday 14 August
It is possible that more dates will be added later in the year for September and October but nothing has been confirmed at the moment.
Merran McRae, Wakefield Council's Chief Executive, said: "We understand that the temporary closure of Pontefract Park may disappoint some people and we're sorry for any inconvenience it may cause.
"We have developed a close partnership with the Race Company over many years and during this time the Company has done a great deal of work to improve the appearance of the park for the visiting public. The Company have also worked extremely hard to ensure that the closures cause minimum disruption, by not holding any race meetings on weekends or evenings.
"Horse racing at Pontefract Park is an integral part of our history and I know many of our residents enjoy a visit to the racecourse. The horse racing industry, like many others, has taken a huge hit during the coronavirus outbreak and holding the race meetings behind closed doors is the only way, at the moment, for the racing to take place.
"I hope people will understand the need to do this and support the long standing tradition of horse racing in Pontefract."
When the last race has finished on each race day, the public will be allowed to enter the park from 7pm. The Race Company will be responsible for enforcing the park closure and will be placing stewards and signage at all entrance and exit points around the park to support the closure.
Wakefield Council has provided information and guidance on its dedicated coronavirus information web page at bit.ly/CoronaWFD