The risk of catching coronavirus from shared tack is likely to be low, a recent study has found.

Researchers from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine applied live virus particles to nine types of sports equipment, including a saddle, and found it only took a few minutes for viral loads to lower.

The researchers found that there was “rapid decay” of viral particles across several types of equipment, and it was “very difficult” to transfer live virus back off it.

Evidence suggested that more porous materials such as leather may be even less friendly to covid.

“Given this rapid loss of viral load and the fact that transmission requires a significant inoculum to be transferred from equipment to the mucous membranes of another individual it seems unlikely that sports equipment is a major cause for transmission of [covid],” said the researchers.

“These findings have important policy implications in the context of the pandemic and may promote other infection control measures in sports to reduce the risk of [covid] transmission and urge sports equipment manufacturers to identify surfaces that may or may not be likely to retain transferable virus.”

The team said the risk of transmission was probably higher during interaction surrounding team sports, rather than through equipment.

“The major risk of transmission during team sports is more likely to be during player interaction, either in transport, during play or socially before and after the game, and infection control measures should be focused on these areas,” said Dr Thomas Edwards, who led the technical work.

The study – which is awaiting peer review – was funded by philanthropic donations and contributions from the UK National Governing Bodies of Sport.