ONE of the north’s leading trainers has issued a warning that owners must not be forgotten ahead of the restart of racing.

Newcastle today stages the first English meeting since the lockdown, with 10 races, limited to 12 runners, being held behind closed doors and additional safety measures in place.

And Michael Dods, who trains at Denton, near Darlington, will have three runners – Dancin’ Boy, Heath Charnock, Twisty of Hay – on the all-weather track.

Dods said: “It’s been a frustrating time, but we have to understand there were much worse things going on in the world.

“That said, the horses have to be looked after, so we’ve been busy, and the staff have worked hard, while social distancing and being careful.”

Safety procedures at Dods’ Denton Hall yard were introduced well ahead of the official lockdown: “We saw it coming and when it arrived, we were ready,” said the Group One-winning trainer.

“Racing is a big industry and the owners have been very patient. We have to start off behind closed doors but at some stage it has to be opened up to owners or we’ll lose them.

“Everyone in the industry has to work together and help each other so we can get the sport back on its feet. This isn’t going to go away until we get a vaccine so we have to learn to live with it.”

Dods praised his owners for their understanding, saying:  “You can’t fault them because they’ve been paying to have their horses in training with no racing.”

Two of Dods’ regular jockeys, Connor beasley and Callum Rodriguez have also been speaking about the challenges facing jockeys but insisted that it would be “business as usual” as far as race riding is concerned.

There won’t be saunas, showers or food at the courses, and the Newcastle weighing room has been redesigned so jockeys have cubicles.

Rodriguez said: “Obviously, it’s going to be very different without any crowds but we just have to adjust. Once we’re out there on the track, I don’t think it will affect anyone’s racing riding technique.

“We all just have to be organised and continue to race in as safe a manner as possible. We all just have to do our best.”

Beasley added: “It’s been tough and it was a real blow when it was announced that racing was being shut down, but we’ve adapted to the situation.

“Horses need a routine and we’ve been busy keeping them exercised and looked after. It’ll be strange not being able use the sauna and showers to freshen up but, hopefully, in a few weeks’ we’ll all have got used to the new guidelines.”

Racing gets underway at Newcastle at 1pm, with the last race at 6.15. The action will be screened on Sky Sports Racing.