Catastrophic consequences lie in store for on-course bookmakers if crowds to not return to Britain's racetracks within the next six months.

The apocalyptic warning came yesterday from leading layer Barry Dennis after hopes of a return of racegoers were dashed by Boris Johnson ’s Covid-19 restrictions announced on Tuesday.

The new measures are set to remain in place until the end of March, and Dennis said: “Catastrophic - that's what it is. Catastrophic.

“On-course bookmakers have got no future at all at the moment, have they?

“My staff were furloughed, and their furlough ends at the end of October, so after that, I’ve either to pay them or sack them, haven’t I?

“Can I keep paying the staff their monthly wages if there's no racing for six months when I've got no income? No I can’t.

“So, consequently, I’ve got to sack the staff.”

Punters in an on-course betting ring

And Dennis urged the British Horseracing Authority to include on-course bookmakers in future aid packages to those left out of pocket by the coronavirus pandemic.

“On-course bookmakers need help,” he added. “Jockeys, trainers, stable staff - all of those are actually still employed.

“They are still getting something, whereas people like me and my colleagues - we are getting nothing, and we've got no chance of getting anything.

“I hope there is some resolve in this before Christmas. Truthfully, that's all I hope.”