Horseracing fans go to Lingfield and Haydock – but Tier 3 turned away

And they’re off! Horseracing fans finally watch live action at Lingfield and Haydock Park for first time in eight months as lockdown lifts – but those living in Tier 3 nearby are turned away

  • Today was first day paying spectators have been allowed to attend horseracing 
  • The courses have been closed to public for eight months since first lockdown 
  • Haydock Park, Lingfield, Ludlow and Kempton were all open for business 
  • But fans living near Lingfield and Haydock in Tier 3 were barred from entering 

Thousands of people turned out to see live racing for the first time in eight months today – but those living in Tier 3 just next door to two racecourses were turned away.

Both Lingfield in Surrey and Haydock Park in Merseyside are in Tier 2 but lie only a few miles from the areas where the tightest restrictions have been imposed.

More than 700 fans were allowed into Haydock to watch the action while racing was also taking place at Ludlow, Kempton and Lingfield around the country. 

Racegoers who tried to buy tickets were asked for their postcodes and refused entry if they were from Tier 3.

Among them was retired engineer Keith Cotterill, 78, who told MailOnline how ‘excited’ he was to be allowed into Haydock before finding out he was barred.

‘I’ve missed it so much, there’s nothing like being at the races,’ he said. ‘I feel so lucky to be ones of the first in the country to see live sport.’

Five minutes later he emerged downcast as he lives in Bolton, Gtr Manchester which is Tier 3.

He said: ‘I’m really ****ed off. I’ve just been told I can’t come in as I live the other side of the mountain. They just said: ‘You can’t come in as you live in Tier 3.’

‘It’s ridiculous as we have now have lower rates than a lot of places around here. I’m devastated I can’t come in as I was so looking forward to it.’

Thousands of people turned out to see live racing for the first time in eight months today – but those living in Tier 3 were turned away. Both Lingfield in Surrey (above) and Haydock Park in Merseyside are in Tier 2 but lie only a few miles from the tightest restrictions

More than 700 fans were allowed into Haydock for the first race at 12.10, while racing was also taking place at Ludlow, Kempton and Lingfield around the country

He was not the only one as warehouse worker Kyle Wilbraham, 22, was also turned away as he lives in Blackburn, Lancs.

He said: ‘I was told I couldn’t come in as I lives in Tier 3. I’m pretty disappointed to say the least.

‘I was looking forward to coming to the races and being one of the first fans to see live sport. It’s gutting but I’ll be back.’ 

At Lingfield, the border with Kent lies just three miles away where shops, pubs and restaurants in the village of Marsh Green remain deserted.

One local resident said: ‘Everyone here is very angry that we have been lumped in with other parts of Kent. We are hoping the tiers will be changed soon.’

The empty streets were in stark contrast to the racecourse where 500 spectators paid £17 each to enjoy eight races while enjoying a pint of beer or eating fish and chips.

A huge cheer went up from the near empty grandstand as Beat the Breeze, the winning horse in the first race entitled The Welcome Back Racegoers Handicap, crossed the finishing line.

Jubilant Alan Danson said: ‘I’ve been waiting months for this and it is just so nice to be outdoors and on the track. The only downer is that I didn’t pick the winner.’  

Racegoers had to complete a track and trace form to gain entry and no one was allowed to buy a ticket at the main entrance.

Even members of the course were not allowed in without a ticket that was scanned by security staff at the gates.

At Lingfield, the border with Kent lies just three miles away where the village of Marsh Green remained deserted, in stark contrast to the racecourse where 500 spectators paid £17 each to enjoy eight races while enjoying a pint of beer or eating fish and chips (above)

Security staff made sure all racegoers wore masks unless they were eating or drinking. All the hospitality boxes were closed with fans either standing two metres apart on the stone steps of the grandstand or sitting down on plastic chairs grouped in front of the finishing line (above)

Ken Penny, 57 and his son James, 24, were among the first through the doors. Mr Penny said: ‘I retired as a teacher in August. It is brilliant to be able to do this now. ‘I know there will be lots of controls, but having just retired as a teacher I am used to those. It really is great to be here’

Inside, the staff sprayed fencing and gates with disinfectant while hand sanitizers were placed around the course. Outside bars that would usually be packed were closed.

Security staff made sure all racegoers wore masks unless they were eating or drinking.

All the hospitality boxes were closed with fans either standing two metres apart on the stone steps of the grandstand or sitting down on plastic chairs grouped in front of the finishing line.

At Haydock the racecourse had been split into Amber and Green zones.

Amber was for the fans while the Green area was for owners, jockeys, trainers and the horses.

The bars and restaurants were open but race-goers had to have a meal if they wanted an alcoholic drink.

Bookmakers were taking cash but the bars and restaurants were cashless. Race fans could not hide their excitement at being allowed back in.

Salon owner Nicky George, 45, said: ‘It’s so good to be back. We only live a mile away so couldn’t wait. My two salons have just opened today but I’ve taken the day off to come here.’

Her husband Carl, 51, said: ‘It’s great to be back and being one of the first is a real privilege.’

Bookies were also doing a brisk trade at Lingfield. 

At Haydock the racecourse had been split into Amber and Green zones. Amber was for the fans while the Green area was for owners, jockeys, trainers and the horses. Salon owner Nicky George, 45, said: ‘It’s so good to be back. We only live a mile away so couldn’t wait’

All the bookies had bottles of hand sanitizer on their stands and the course announcer regularly reminded fans to keep a safe distance and follow the rules

Sid Hooper, who had to furlough his staff, said: ‘It is a pleasure to be back. I’ve taken a big financial hit over the last couple of months so I’m hoping for lots of business.’

All the bookies had bottles of hand sanitizer on their stands and the course announcer regularly reminded fans to keep a safe distance and follow the rules.

Ken Penny, 57 and his son James, 24, were among the first through the doors.

Mr Penny said: ‘I retired as a teacher in August and wanted to spend my time playing golf and going to race meetings. It is brilliant to be able to do this now.

‘I know there will be lots of controls, but having just retired as a teacher I am used to those. It really is great to be here.’

Mark Spincer, managing director of the Lingfield racing division, said they were delighted to be welcoming back spectators.

‘It is just great to see people here. There have been meetings behind closed doors with no spectators since June, but people come for a day out and the atmosphere. It is great that we are here.’ 

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