Cheltenham Festival: Organisers prepared for 'limited' attendance

Cheltenham racecourse
Cheltenham's meeting in October was held behind closed doors

Organisers of the Cheltenham Festival are prepared for this year's event to be held with a limited attendance.

No spectators are currently permitted at British racecourses because of the government's coronavirus restrictions.

The Jockey Club said that it was "likely only small numbers of people will be present" at this year's event, set for 16-19 March.

Last year, 150,000 attended the Festival in March, ending days before the first lockdown measures began.

There was widespread criticism of such a well-attended event being given the go-ahead during the worsening pandemic.

Scientists believed the huge crowds at the four-day event could have helped to "accelerate the spread" of the virus.

With this year's jump racing showpiece little more than two months away, the Jockey Club's regional managing director Ian Renton told BBC Sport: "We've accepted that it is going to be a different Festival this year to normal.

"Let's see where we are by March but the team is focused on setting the stage for four world-class days of racing, which are vital to many livelihoods in the British racing industry and will hopefully be enjoyed by many millions of people on television."

Banner Image Reading Around the BBC - BlueFooter - Blue