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Doncaster Rejects Claims COVID-19 Spike Caused by Track

Racecourse hosted a test event last week.

Racegoers watch the horses run by at Doncaster during last week's test event

Racegoers watch the horses run by at Doncaster during last week's test event

Edward Whitaker/Racing Post

Doncaster racecourse on Sept. 16 refuted claims by the Welsh government that a "significant" outbreak of coronavirus which had resulted in a local lockdown in Rhondda Cynon Taf could be traced back to last week's test event.

Wales health minister Vaughan Gething identified a rugby club day trip to the racecourse, stopping off at a number of pubs along the route, as the source of the outbreak. Announcing the local lockdown he said: "There are a number of clusters in Rhondda Cynon Taf—two of which are significant.

"One is associated with a rugby club and pub in the lower Rhondda, and the other with a club outing to the Doncaster races, which stopped off at a series of pubs on the way."

Doncaster, however, reported it had received no contact from National Health Service Track and Trace and had no ticket bookings for any groups from the South Wales region.

A statement read: "As a condition of running the pilot event last week, we were required to implement a full track and trace database that took the details of all attendees who would be on site, linked to an e-ticket and photo ID system on entry that would verify attendance.

"Doncaster Racecourse has received no contact from any organization, including the NHS or the Welsh government, to verify the attendance of any individuals at last week's event for the purposes of track and trace.

"In addition, we do not have any ticket bookings for any groups from the South Wales area for Wednesday's event. We will be contacting the Welsh health minister as a matter of urgency to clarify the situation."

A spokesman for the Racecourse Association commented: "The story regarding an outbreak of coronavirus in Wales was brought to the attention of the RCA this afternoon. Safety protocols in place at the St. Leger festival were stringent and received approval at both local and national level.

"Racegoers accept a level of responsibility when attending a day's racing with a code of conduct and we would urge all racegoers to make their way directly from their home to the racecourse bearing in mind the latest government advice."

The incident could prove a thorough test of the procedures in place at Doncaster as racing plans further test events at Warwick and Newmarket next week. Doncaster's four-day trial was cut to just one day after Dr. Rupert Suckling, director of public health for Doncaster, intervened.