Champion jockey Brian Hughes has given his support to the British Horseracing Authority’s medical team amid reports the governing body is considering the introduction of a new coronavirus testing system.
Running was the first elite sport to return last June after a three-month hiatus to fight the Covid-19 epidemic.
However, while strict protocols have been in place ever since – with all attendees required to complete a health questionnaire before each meeting and undergo temperature checks before being allowed in – coronavirus testing has failed. been implemented, unlike some other sports.
With a more virulent strain of the virus causing a significant increase in positive cases since Christmas, football’s Premier League and EFL have moved to a more robust screening process, with players now being tested twice a week.
According to reports on Wednesday, the BHA is currently evaluating the possibility of following a similar pattern for jockeys.
Hughes said: “I am in favor of everyone’s safety. I think Dr Jerry Hill (Chief Medical Advisor) of the BHA has done a very good job of protecting us all – all the protocols and measures of biosecurity that has been put in place which I think has worked very well.
“All the precautions that have been put in place are to our advantage. I think it works well, but if they feel that (tests) are necessary for the sport, I have no objection.
“From the coaches and owners, to the stable staff, to the jacks of jockeys and everyone who works at the races, everyone involved has come together.
“We all want to run and keep running. We all want to do it safely, and I think it has been done very well so far.
“Everyone is learning all the time about Covid and the way it is changing. Anything we can do to keep everyone safe is only a good thing.
Conservative MP Laurence Robertson, chair of the all-party parliamentary group for races whose constituency includes Cheltenham, told the Daily Mail that tests should be introduced.
He said: “It would be a good idea for more testing to be done on racetracks, especially if we can get a rapid deployment of rapid testing.
“Last summer we were limited to screening people with symptoms, but that is no longer the case.”
Measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on racetracks have been stepped up in recent months, with face masks being made mandatory in October and owners barred from visiting since the start of the year.
A spokesperson for the BHA said: “Racing’s coronavirus control protocols are approved by the UK government. Racing is a predominantly outdoor, rural and non-contact sport and has been agreed by DCMS and Public Health England that for this reason – together with the strict and tailor-made controls that have been put in place at racetracks – when racing resumes, it would not require an ongoing program of mass testing, but rather use a strict screening approach of health.
“Sport protocols are working well and the industry has acted very responsibly in following government guidelines. As a result, no evidence of transmission of the disease on racetracks has been observed since the resumption of sport on June 1, in around 800 matches. .
“However, we are constantly monitoring the situation and liaising with industry and training centers. We take an agile approach and our protocols are constantly reviewed to see how running can continue to strengthen our approach and best protect our people.
“Due to the new variant of the disease, the picture changes – and if the evidence shows it, then testing is an option that can be useful. As always, we will be guided by science, data and evidence.”