YORK Racecourse has confirmed that it is ‘engaging with both Government and the racing authorities’ to explore ways of allowing the maximum possible number of punters to attend the John Smith’s Cup meeting on July 9 and 10.

Until the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday that the final lifting of lockdown restrictions would be delayed, it was expected that there would have been no Covid-imposed limits on the number of racegoers who could attend. More than 30,000 attended John Smith’s Cup day in 2019.

But now that lockdown lifting has been delayed to July 19, restrictions will still apply at the racecourse for the meeting.

Only 4,000 punters were allowed to attend the races each day last weekend – including for the 50th Macmillan Charity Raceday on Saturday.

“Naturally, York Racecourse is disappointed to learn of the delay to step four of the roadmap, though we acknowledge it has been activated due to public health concerns, which remain a priority for everyone,” a racecourse spokesman said today.

“Consequently, we are engaging with both Government and the racing authorities to explore any ways to maximise the attendance at the John Smith’s Cup meeting on Friday July 9 and Saturday July 10.”

The spokesman stressed, however, that provided the easing of lockdown is not delayed further, both the music showcase weekend on July 23 and 24 and the Ebor Festival from August 18 -21 should be under ‘Step 4’ rules – ie with few restrictions on numbers.

A statement on the racecourse’s website asks for racegoers to be patient while it ‘assesses the consequences’ of the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday.

“Further detail is still expected from Government with particular regard to the operation of large venues,” the statement says. “In turn that will be assessed by the British Horseracing Authority for any impact on racing.

“As the next York raceday is not until Friday July 9, we think that racegoers will appreciate our desire to take a little time to reflect on the situation, before making decisions about specific days.”

A limited crowd will be permitted as a minimum, the statement adds – and the option of a ‘no quibble refund’ remains in place.