Ngong horse racing calendar suspended over coronavirus

Monday March 30 2020
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James Muinde, riding on Silverstone Air, on his way to winning the Britam Kenya Guineas race at Ngong Racecourse on February 3, 2019. The racing calendar has been suspended indefinitely. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |

By LARRY NGALA

Horse racing at Ngong Racecourse and Golf Park, is the latest sport to be put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement released on Thursday evening by the Jockey Club of Kenya chairperson Miriam Haynes, said all racing activities had to be put on hold in compliance with the Government directive.

“We are all facing the limitations and challenges brought about by the global pandemic of Covid-19 and wish to advise the adverse effect on the Jockey Club of Kenya’s normal activities and of the decisions that have been made, on your behalf,’’ Haynes told the Jockey Club members and stakeholders.

She said race meetings had been suspended, until further notice. Haynes however said, the JCK Programmer, Mary Binks, had been working hard on provisional programmes — based on different scenarios — should the ban be lifted within the next few weeks.

These provisional programmes are being discussed by the Executive Committee, in conjunction with Mary and Senior Steward Nigel Hunter.

“As soon as a programme has been agreed, early next week, the trainers will be informed.

FIT AND READY TO RUN

Meanwhile, all trainers are encouraged to keep their string of horses fit and ready to run,’’ said the chairman.

Also closed is the gaming centre and the use of the jockey grounds that has been a popular venue for events such as weddings and converts.

The Winning Post restaurant will also remain closed in compliance with the directives.

The chairperson said the closure has resulted in serious loss of income for the JCK, causing huge cash flow problems. “We are taking provisional bookings and hope to make up for lost time as soon as the ban on public gatherings is lifted.”

The first meeting to be affected was due to be held on March 22, while the next major event on the calendar is the Kenya Derby, Kenya’s premier horse racing event that was scheduled for April 5.

Haynes however said the golf activities at the Golf Park will continue but the course will close at 5.30pm daily to ensure that golfers and staff beat the recently imposed curfew of 7pm to 5am.