Since horseracing stopped in Britain (18 March) and Ireland (24 March) due to the coronavirus, their respective racing authorities have devised detailed behind-closed-doors resumption plans.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is working towards restarting on 1 June, the earliest point at which the UK government will consider a return of professional sport in line with the prime minister’s phased plan to exit lockdown.
In Ireland, the sport was pencilled in to return on 29 June 29, but that date was brought forward to 8 June by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who stressed the importance of the industry to the economy.
The BHA and Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) have outlined provisional schedules for racing’s return in June and revised their calendars of Pattern races, including the first Classics of the season.
1 June: After months of waiting, racing could finally be allowed to return in Britain. The action is scheduled to kick off on the all-weather at Newcastle, with an eight-race card in the afternoon.
2 June: Another meeting will take place at Newcastle the following afternoon with two 1000m maidens, the first juvenile races in the revised calendar. With an emphasis on providing opportunities regionally, there will also be an eight-race card on the all-weather at Kempton.
3 June: The BHA published a blockbuster schedule of Pattern races on May 13 and the first two, the Group 3 Classic Trial and the Listed EBF Snowdrop Fillies’ Stakes will take place on this day at Kempton. Yarmouth will stage the first turf meeting since the suspension of racing with a nine-race card, including four races for older horses.
4 June: Newcastle is set to play host to the Group 3 Pavilion Stakes, which is ordinarily run at Ascot and was won last year by Calyx. We could also witness the return of racing at Newmarket, where the first four races on the afternoon card are reserved for juveniles.
5 June: The Pattern races will start to come thick and fast with Newmarket beginning a run of three days with the first Group 1 in the revised schedule, the Coronation Cup, which was moved from Epsom. The track is also set to stage the Group 3 Abernant Stakes and the Listed Paradise Stakes, ordinarily run at Ascot. Lingfield could be back with a bang and is down to run its Listed Oaks and Derby Trials, won last year by the winners of the two Epsom Classics in Anthony Van Dyck and Anapurna.
6 June: The first Classic of the season, the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, will take place on a mouth-watering card at Newmarket, which will also stage the Group 2 Dahlia Fillies Stakes and the Group 3 Palace House Stakes. Trainer Charlie Appleby has issued a positive update on 2,000 Guineas favourite Pinatubo, who he said had trained on well from two. There is also afternoon all-weather action from Newcastle, which hosts the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes, and Lingfield.
7 June: The top-class action continues at Newmarket with the Qipco 1,000 Guineas and two Listed contests in the Buckhounds Stakes and the EBF Pretty Polly Fillies’ Stakes. Haydock will put on its first meeting since the return of racing and it will include the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes, relocated from Sandown.
8 June: Racing is set to resume in Ireland with a solitary meeting at Naas and there is a full complement of meetings in Britain at Haydock, Lingfield and Chelmsford. The BHA intends to publish a revised fixture list and programme of races for 9 to 30 June by May 22.
9 June: Leopardstown hosts the 1,000 Guineas Trial, the first Irish Group race in the revised schedule, and the Listed 2,000 Guineas Trial.
10 June: Unlike Britain, Ireland will initially host one meeting a day and on the third day after the restart Navan will host the Listed Heritage and Salsabil Stakes.
Key meetings from 11 June include Royal Ascot, which is set to take place behind closed doors in its usual slot from 16 to 20 June, but there will be changes to the order of the races.
Epsom will host the Investec Derby and Oaks on 4 July, after receiving local approval to stage the Classics on Tuesday with normal public access to racecourse land forbidden for 24 hours.
In a bumper weekend, the Coral-Eclipse has been pushed back a day to 5 July and will only be open to four-year-olds and older horses.
The majority of Group races in Ireland have maintained their usual slots, including the Irish Oaks on 18 July
There is good news for Irish jumps fans too with the Guinness Galway Hurdle and the Tote.com Galway Plate set to go ahead at a seven-day behind-closed-doors festival rom 27 July. – racingpost.com