Naas will host the first fixture when racing resumes behind closed doors in Ireland on June 8, with jumps racing beginning again at Limerick on June 22.

Horse Racing Ireland have revealed initial plans for fixtures after the Irish Government gave the go-ahead for action to resume earlier than the June 29 restart first mooted.

As in Britain, a high profile action will feature immediately with Classic action at the Curragh on Friday, June 12 featuring the 2,000 Guineas while the 1,000 Guineas will be held 24 hours later.

The Irish Derby retains its traditional date at the Curragh on Saturday, June 27, as does the Irish Oaks on Saturday, July 18. Irish Champions Weekend will take place on September 12 and 13.

International participation will be restricted to Group 1 and Group 2 races only for June – all of which must be in strict compliance with Government policy on the movement of people in and out of the country.

For the first three weeks, HRI has stated that racing will be restricted to nine racecourses “which are more centrally located to minimise travel distances and which also have higher stable capacities given the requirement for one stable per horse under the new protocols.”

All fixtures will take place under the strict protocols, one of which is health screening of all those who will be in attendance at each meeting. To allow this to be delivered efficiently, 48-hour declarations will be introduced for all races in June.

HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: ““We expect there to be significant demand for horses to run once we resume, After 11 weeks off, It will take some time to catch up and this will be done over the rest of the year rather than immediately.”

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Royal Ascot schedule set to be rejigged

Ascot supremo Nick Smith had admitted that this year’s Royal meeting will have to have a regigged running order as a result of a cramped planned fixture list if the government gives the go-ahead for racing to resume on June 1.

The Guineas meeting which should have been staged at the beginning of May is now pencilled in for June 6 and 7, with a host of Royal Ascot trials also programmed for the first week of action.

Guineas runners usually go on to contest the three-year-old mile showpieces at Ascot, such as the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes over a mile which is run on the first day.

Smith, the track’s director of racing and communications, told Sky Sports Racing: “It’s really important the Guineas takes place before Royal Ascot if possible and that will of course lead on to the St James’s Palace Stakes and the Coronation Stakes.

“In the fullness of time and with the BHA, we will look at an order of running which complements the position of the Guineas as best as possible in these unusual times.”

Juvenile contests at the Royal meeting could also be moved around.

Smith said: “I think it’s fairly obvious the St James’s Palace and the Coronation need to be as far away from the Guineas as possible – that’s just rule number one and we’ll work backwards from that.

“We’ll look at where the two-year-old races are best placed and see how some of the trials that go into Ascot best fit in.

“This is not going to be an ideal scenario and I’m not going to say that anyone is going to have the perfect preparation this year, but we all feel we have a duty to get the show on the road and get it done.”

Tributes paid to dual Cheltenham Festival winner Flagship Uberalles

Tributes have been paid to top-class two-mile chaser and dual Cheltenham Festival winner Flagship Uberalles after he passed away on Friday, May 15, aged 26 at owner JP McManus’s Martinstown Stud in County Limerick.

He was an ultra-tough and hugely popular chaser for a variety of trainers when running in the colours of American owner Michael Krystofiak and his wife Elisabeth Gutner before later being sold to McManus.

Flagship Uberalles was the winner of 14 of his 40 races, including seven Grade 1s, and more than £625,000 in total prize-money.

I was lucky to be at the Cheltenham Festival in 2002 when he won the Queen Mother Champion Chase by three lengths from Native Upmanship for trainer Philip Hobbs.

Hobbs told the Racing Post: “He was one of the best horses we had through our hands. On his best days he was very good.He is certainly among the very best I have trained.”

Flagship Uberalles also enjoyed some stellar days when in the care of Paul Nicholls, winning eight times in all for the multiple champion trainer.

They included a run of six straight wins in 1999, when landing the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival and the Grade 1 Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree.

Nicholls said: “He was a proper horse for us and won some very nice races. His win in the Arkle with Joe Tizzard on board was my first Cheltenham winner and was probably my most memorable day with him.”

His sole success for McManus came in the 2003 running of the Grade 1 BMW Champion Chase at Punchestown and he went on to finish runner-up spot to Azertyuiop in the 2004 Queen Mother Champion Chase before he was retired to Martinstown at the end of a disappointing 2004/05 season.

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