By Racing Post

THE process of the return of greyhound racing is set to begin next Monday when the first sessions of nationwide trials are planned with a view to competitive action on June 1 when the government proposes to allow the resumption of professional sport behind closed doors.
Responding fully to the government’s update and published guidance on its Covid-19 recovery strategy, GBGB managing director Mark Bird said: “With the release of the government’s road map to recovery, it is clear that – as we had hoped and anticipated – there is light at the end of the tunnel following what has been a long and challenging cessation of racing.
“We do not underestimate the cost to anyone across our sport, in particular owners, trainers and promoters who we know have keenly felt these measures on their daily routines and livelihoods. “What is also evident in what is being announced, however, is that the measures for a phased return to greyhound racing were not necessarily overcautious and reflected the fact that the coming weeks and months will not see a rapid return to any sense of ‘normal’.
“Things will need to change – primarily at stadia, but also in the way that each trainer, owner, kennel hand, stipe and member of racecourse staff will need to act to ensure their safety and that of others.
“Assuming that the government’s five tests can be met satisfactorily between now and then, the government has set out its intentions for sporting events to begin taking place again – behind closed doors – from June 1.
“We are working towards this timetable and are hopeful that, with a two-week trial period already mooted to start from Monday, May 18, everything will then be successfully in place for the racing calendar to resume from June 1.”
Trials, then, are effectively on from next Monday to allow the necessary build-up to that competitive restart unless the greyhound authorities are told otherwise.
Bird added: “As guidance continues to be released this week on ‘Covid-19 secure’ workplaces, we will be reviewing all the social distancing and hygiene measures contained within our operational policy to assess their ongoing suitability.
“Where practices can be relaxed safely in line with the most up-to-date advice from government, they will of course be.”
There is also a glimmer of hope for open-racing with the GBGB noting the feedback on its earlier published decision that such action would not start for a minimum of six weeks.
Bird said: “We will also be keeping under review the decision not to include open racing within the first phases of our operational policy.
“This will be wholly dependent on the information released by government between now and June 1 but, recognising the comments and feedback from open-race owners and trainers across the sport, we will be doing everything reasonably and within our power as regulator to reinstate open racing opportunities as soon as possible in June.”