King George behind closed doors at Kempton

Kempton’s Ladbrokes Christmas Festival will be staged behind closed doors following the latest announcement from the Government on areas of England which are to move to the highest level of coronavirus restrictions.

While nearby London moved to Tier 3 earlier this week, with the Sunbury track being in Surrey – at that time in Tier 2 – a crowd of up to 2,000, albeit not racegoers from the capital itself, was still set to attend the showpiece fixture which features the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.

However, the announcement to the House of Commons by Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Thursday that Surrey will now join Tier 3 means no crowd will be permitted.

A spokesperson for the track’s owners, Jockey Club Racecourses, said: “We know that racing fans will be disappointed to be missing out on some thrilling live action over the Christmas period, especially having only just been allowed to return to our venues in very limited numbers.

“However, we recognise we must all play our part in tackling this pandemic and look forward to welcoming racegoers back to our courses as soon as we’re able to do so.”

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Ascot’s pre-Christmas fixture this weekend is also set to be affected by the latest developments.

A post on the track’s Twitter feed read: “The Government has announced that Berkshire will be moved into Tier 3 restrictions from 00:01am on Saturday 19th December.

“As a result we are currently reviewing the attendance of spectators at Ascot Racecourse for December Racing Weekend and will provide a full update shortly.”

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