Sir AP McCoy says ‘lives were lost’ because Cheltenham Festival went ahead


‘Lives were lost because Cheltenham Festival went ahead’: AP McCoy says race organisers ‘followed government advice’ to let 70,000 racegoers attend Gold Cup despite coronavirus fears

  • Sir AP McCoy has admitted that ‘lives have been lost’ because of Cheltenham 
  • Retired champion jockey spoke about Festival which took place on March 10-13 
  • He told Good Morning Britain today: ‘It’s always easy to see things in hindsight’
  • 250,000 people gathered over four days at the racecourse in Gloucestershire 
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Retired champion jockey Sir AP McCoy has admitted that ‘lives have been lost’ because the Cheltenham Festival was allowed to go ahead.

The 45-year-old said horse racing had followed government advice to go ahead with the event that saw 250,000 people gather over four days last month.

But he admitted that the festival between March 10 and 13 had contributed to the UK’s death toll which now stands at more than 10,600.

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today, the Northern Irishman, who rode a record 4,358 winners, said: ‘It’s always easy to see things in hindsight.

‘We followed government advice and did Cheltenham but the reality is more lives have been lost because of it.’

McCoy has joined forces with other equestrian stars including Frankie Dettori and Zara Tindall to raise money to support the NHS during the crisis.

They have been involved in the Equestrian Relief initiative which has raised £100,000 with daily challenges such as baking an Easter-themed cake and a charity auction.

(From left) Ruby Walsh, AP McCoy and the Duchess of Cornwall at Cheltenham on March 11

Thousands of people attended the festival in Gloucestershire, pictured above on March 13

Thousands of people attended the festival in Gloucestershire, pictured above on March 13

And he told presenter Piers Morgan today: ‘The challenge is great – we’ve raised over £100,000. But I was a little disappointed I finished second. I put it down to age.’

McCoy’s admission on Cheltenham follows fears dozens of celebrities along with hundreds more racegoers could have been infected with coronavirus last month.

Camilla’s ex-husband Andrew Parker Bowles, comedian Lee Mack and footballer Charlie Austin are all thought to have contracted the infection at the event.

Racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks has also revealed fears that he got the virus there – as did two racecourse workers, Andrew Maclean and Scott Saunders. 

Zara Tindall (left) and Archie McCoy, son of AP McCoy, at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 11

Zara Tindall (left) and Archie McCoy, son of AP McCoy, at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 11

Fans were packed into the stands at the world-famous festival with no protection despite fears over the spread of the virus which was then in its early stages in Britain.

It went ahead just two weeks before the lockdown on March 23, with 60,000 to 70,000 attendees daily at a time when Italy was already in lockdown as of March 9. 

But organisers The Jockey Club have insisted the festival ‘went ahead under Government guidance’. It finished three days before mass gatherings were banned. 

There was huge debate at the time of the Festival over whether it should go ahead, especially with dozens of other sports events being cancelled due to the pandemic.

AP McCoy wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Synchronised at the Festival on March 16, 2012

AP McCoy wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Synchronised at the Festival on March 16, 2012

These included Premier League football matches, England’s cricket tour of Sri Lanka and Formula One races – all called off on March 13, the last day of Cheltenham.

Hundreds more people who attended the festival have also taken to social media to claim they contracted the virus while at the event in Gloucestershire.

While most of them have not been tested and cannot prove where they picked up their illness, dozens claim they only started showing symptoms after the event.

Camilla was at the event, although tested negative for the virus. Her husband Prince Charles tested positive, but has since recovered from a ‘mild’ form of the illness. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk