Could Your Boxing Day Racing Tradition Go Ahead this Year?

The Racing Post reports that Wetherby waits for government news as hopes rise for Boxing Day crowd.



'Until we know whether we're in Tier 2 we can't push the button and put tickets out'


Wetherby chief executive Jonjo Sanderson is waiting on clarity from the UK government about whether the course can welcome back spectators on Boxing Day after reports suggested Leeds could move into Tier 2 this week.


After announcing on Monday that London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire would be elevated to Tier 3, health secretary Matt Hancock appeared to hint at an easing of coronavirus restrictions in Leeds, which includes Wetherby, due to declining infection rates.


The government will review its measures on Wednesday, although there are fears an announcement might not be made until Thursday.


Sanderson said: "I've been looking at the rolling rates every day and while Leeds is improving, the other four areas of West Yorkshire [Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield] are much higher.


"It really depends on how far they are going to break it down and whether they're going to take the average of West Yorkshire as a whole.


"Nobody knows but West Yorkshire was the region they set out originally and I didn't think they were going to break it down to individual local authorities.


"Until we know whether we're in Tier 2 we can't push the button and put tickets out."


Should Wetherby get the green light, around 800 tickets will go on sale for a crowd of 1,000 racegoers, including owners. Boxing Day is traditionally the track's busiest fixture with more than 10,000 spectators.


"The timing couldn't possibly be worse and it will be quite a challenge operationally, even with a modest number of spectators," added Sanderson.


"We'll try to make it as economically viable as possible, but we all want to get crowds back in a proper manner and in bigger numbers, so we have to go through this process."


Wetherby also stages a fixture on December 27 and will impose the same capacity as Boxing Day should spectators be allowed to return to the course for the first time since early March.


The two-day fixture runs parallel with Kempton's King George meeting, which London-based racegoers will be barred from attending after Monday's announcement.


Kempton's site is classed as being in Surrey and the only danger for those who have purchased any of the now sold-out tickets, which had a cap of 2,000, is if that region is moved into Tier 3 when the government reviews its measures on Wednesday.


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