New Year, but old coronavirus reality awaits at Fakenham Racecourse
After a brief taste of normality, it’s back to behind closed doors racing at Fakenham when the track stages its New Year fixture on Monday, January 4.
The action will be behind closed doors following the recent imposition of tougher coronavirus restrictions which prevent spectators attending sporting fixtures.
And the sport's governing body, the British Horseracing Authority, has announced that owners will also be prevented from attending the meeting under tougher rules limiting admittance to tier four tracks to essential staff only.
A seven-race card is due to get underway at 12.25pm, with the featured contest being the Class Three Fakenham Racecourse Handicap Hurdle, at 1.25pm. The two and a half mile race offers total prize money of more than £14,000.
Around £9,500 is up for grabs in the main supporting race, the Happy New Year Handicap Hurdle over just short of three miles, at 2.25pm.
The card will open with the Thorpland Maiden Hurdle, a Class Four race over the minimum trip of two miles, before the Wells Next The Sea Novices’ Handicap Chase takes place at 12.55, over two miles five furlongs.
The Racing Partnership sponsors the Mares’ Handicap Chase, also over two miles five furlongs, at 1.55pm.
Meanwhile, amateur and conditional jockeys will have their chance to shine in one of the longest races of Fakenham’s season, the three mile five furlong Attheraces.com Handicap Chase which goes off at 2.55pm.
And the card closes with the Norfolk Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race over two miles at 3.25pm.
The meeting has been moved from its usual January 1 slot as part of measures designed to reduce the spread of coronavirus, by limiting the number of fixtures that can take place on any one day.
Several other courses have also seen fixtures moved from either Boxing Day or New Year’s Day.
And, with Norfolk currently in the toughest tier four of Covid-19 restrictions, it means spectators will be forced to stay away again, after annual members were admitted to the pre-Christmas fixture a fortnight ago.
Going conditions at the track are currently soft, though they could improve over the next few days with drier weather forecast.
Two more fixtures are scheduled at Fakenham this month, on January 19 and January 28.