For now, horse racing remains suspended as a result of the lockdown measures imposed by the government to help tackle the coronavirus. Action in the UK has been on hold since March 17th, and as we close in on two whole months without horse racing, at a time of year when some of the biggest races in jumps and flat racing are usually held, many may have a new-found appreciation for the sport when the action does eventually get back underway.
For a lot of people, sport has been a complete constant all throughout their lives, and so that last couple of months have been a strange time for those who look to sport as their source of entertainment and their release from the trials and tribulations of working life. There is a sense that horse racing is especially linked to this aspect of people’s lives. The sheer amount of live racing to sink our teeth into means that you rarely have to look far for today’s racecards, with the next race usually not too far away.
To take horse racing away is to leave a void in the lives of so many people who have an intense passion for the sport, and those people’s passion for the sport may be rekindled when the action resumes at last. Suddenly, the fine thoroughbred horses will look all the more impressive, the jockeys all the more skilful, the grass ever greener – all the small details which come together to give horse racing its unique appeal will be amplified more than ever before.
The Virtual Grand National in April was designed as an alternative to the real-life showpiece event which was forced to be cancelled for this year. But in the end, the computerised running of the race could not hold a candle to the thrills and spills of the real-life race. For many, the Virtual Grand National will have merely made their longing for the real thing even more intense, and so racing fans will be more keenly appreciative of horse racing’s key qualities more than ever before.
The absence of sport during this period of lockdown has been a time of reflection for many fans. We’ve been able to take stock of the importance sport plays in our daily lives in terms of giving us recreation and relaxation amidst the stresses of everyday life, and horse racing is no different. The lockdown has forced sport to take a back seat, and while we can get on just fine without it, life just isn’t quite the same.
Horse racing’s return is imminent, and perhaps one of the most significant aspects of the sport’s return is that it will be an indicator that as a nation we have come through the worst of this crisis and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Won’t sport be all the sweeter after this period of enforced separation? It’s been a long wait, but horse racing’s return lies tantalisingly upon the horizon, and as we reacquaint ourselves with the unique thrills and excitement that only sport can bring, the resumption of racing deserves big celebrations.