YORK Racecourse is no longer taking bookings for its first meeting of the season next month - the Dante Festival - casting doubt over whether the event will go ahead.

According to a statement on its website, the four race days for the Dante, which is due to take place between May 13 and 15, have all been closed to new bookings.

Existing customers are asked to retain their bookings and await further information, expected in the next few days.

Racecourse spokesman James Brennan has confirmed that there are no plans to hold the festival behind closed doors.

Meanwhile, tickets for the racing season at the racecourse for later in the summer through to October remain on sale.

Bookings direct with the racecourse can be made “safe in the knowledge that a full refund is available should circumstances require it,” the statement says.

It says: “At York Racecourse the safety and welfare of our visitors, racegoers, participants and team is paramount.

“We are keeping up to date with the latest information and advice from the Government and the British Horseracing Authority.

"Clearly, this is an evolving picture, we are aware that specific racing events elsewhere may be cancelled after consideration of their unique circumstances: at this stage, York Racecourse continues to follow the national guidance.

“However, given the current situation, the four race days scheduled for May 2020 (The Dante Festival, Wednesday 13, Thursday 14 and Friday 15, as well as Saturday May 30) have all been closed to new bookings.”

The statement adds: “On March 17, the British Horseracing Authority advised that racing will be suspended nationwide until April 30.

"This decision is being kept under review, with an update expected in the next few days.

“Admission for the racing season at York for later in the summer through to October remains on sale to all areas.

“For all racing bookings, including hospitality that were made directly with the York Racecourse, a full refund would be offered in the event of cancellation. Customers who have purchased through third parties should contact that organisation.

“Advance booked general admission (County Stand and Grandstand & Paddock) badges and tickets may be returned for a full refund up to gates opening time on the day of racing provided that they have not been used to gain entry to the racecourse.”

York Racecourse is also a venue for conference and banqueting events and, in light of Government advice, all non-raceday events up to the end of June, with the exception of visits by the Blood Transfusion Service, have now been postponed or cancelled, the statement says.