Exclusive: Hope that crowds could return at Hamilton Racecourse Ladies' Night meeting on August 1

The chief executive of Hamilton Park Racecourse is clinging to the belief that some spectators may be able to attend the Boe Violet Gin Ladies’ Night on Saturday, August 1.

A large crowd watches a Hamilton Park Racecourse meeting last summer

After being shut since late March due to coronavirus, the track is due to host meetings again behind closed doors in June and July and it could be that further relaxation of lockdown measures allows punters back into the course later this summer.

“I’m going on the cautious approach at the moment,” Hamilton Park boss Vivien Currie told the Carluke and Lanark Gazette. “I’m waiting to see whether we get the go ahead for customers coming.

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“But I’m planning for the worst and assuming that it’ll be next May.

“The British Horseracing Authority says June and July fixtures are categorically behind closed doors and they will review August again.

“At Ladies Night, we normally have 10,000 people in. So if I was going to be betting I think it would be a very long price for a full gate!

“But, ever the optimist I’m hoping that we might be able to let in some customers in some shape or form. Until we are told categorically not, we’re hanging onto the optimism there that there may be something in August.”

Under normal circumstances, Hamilton Park stages meetings in front of thousands of spectators from May to September, but plans were dashed in this year of crisis around the world.

Vivien added: “Locking down in late March when we’d incurred expenses and have suppliers to pay and at the same time having to cancel all the income from admissions and hospitality and everything has been devastating.

“The timing probably couldn’t have been much worse for a summer business.

“It’s a significant hit. More than two-thirds of our revenue will be lost.We don’t have a winter season to recover from it.

“We’ve had meetings abandoned before because of poor weather but like many, we’ve never faced anything of this devastation before.

“Whatever racing we’re able to do will hopefully get us limping to the end of 2020.”

It is planned that racing behind closed doors at Hamilton Park will resume with an afternoon meeting on Wednesday, June 24. But racecourse bosses are waiting to hear back from the Scottish Government to confirm.

Only jockeys, one trainer and one lad or lass per horse will be allowed into meetings, with a maximum of 12 horses per race.

The full fixture list (June and July meetings are definitely behind closed doors) are – Wednesday, June 24 (a); Sunday, June 28 (a); Friday, July 3 (a); Sunday, July 12 (a); Thursday, July 16 (a); Saturday, August 1 (e) – Boe Violet Gin Ladies’ Night; Friday, August 7 (e); Thursday, August 13 (a); Friday, August 28 (e) – Ladbrokes Lanark Silver Bell Racenight.