The first meeting to be staged if racing is given the go-ahead to resume behind closed doors on June 1 will be an eight-race all-weather card at Newcastle.
The British Horse Racing Authority revealed details it’s initial schedule for resumption, with racing having not taken place in Britain since meetings behind closed doors at Wetherby and Taunton on March 17 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It comes following news from the Government that there would be no professional sport, even without spectators. in England until at least June 1.
The BHA statement also gave plans for the 2000 and 1000 Guineas to be run on June 6 and 7 and Royal Ascot would remain in its traditional spot in the calendar. The Derby and Oaks will both be run on July 4.
Newcastle and Kempton will race on June 2, followed by Kempton and Yarmouth on June 3 and Newcastle and Newmarket on June 4.
Lingfield and Newmarket feature on June 5, with those tracks also in action on June 6 together with Newcastle. Haydock, Lingfield and Newmarket host the June 7 fare, and Chelmsford, Haydock and Lingfield on June 8.
Newmarket’s Friday card will be headlined by the Coronation Cup, which has been moved from Epsom, plus the Brigadier Gerard Stakes, Paradise Stakes and Abernant Stakes. Lingfield hosts its Derby and Oaks trials on that that day.
There are 18 meetings scheduled for the eight days. Of the 149 races, 96 are handicaps which equates to 64 per cent whilst there will be 14 of races for two-year-olds.
It’s great to see that racing fans now know what is in store following weeks of speculation following the lockdown – so fingers crossed the government will give the all-clear for racing behind closed doors to start on June 1.
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Henderson considering flat options for Grade 1 winning Hurdler Verdana Blue
Champion jumps trainer Nicky Henderson is considering options on the Flat during the summer for his Grade 1 winning hurdler Verdana Blue.
The eight-year-old mare enjoyed success at the highest level when spiring a shock and beating stable companion Buveur D’Air in the 2018 running of the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
She went on to land the 2019 running of the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr and has not been seen since finishing fourth to stablemate Epatante in the latest running of the Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day.
Henderson told his Unibet blog: “Most of the winter squad are already on their holidays which is about three weeks earlier than normal so it’s pretty quiet around the yard, but we have a few still in training ready to go if jump racing resumes in July.
“Verdana Blue looks fantastic and she will probably race on the Flat during the summer. I have to speak to her owners, but the Queen Alexandra at Royal Ascot could be a possibility as I’d imagine she’d stay the trip as she’s a proper National Hunt mare, but everything is obviously very much up in the air where Ascot is concerned.
“There are quite a few options for her and I wouldn’t even rule out dropping her right down in distance and having a crack at the Ebor at York in August.”
Henderson also had news of Brain Power, who could also have a run on the level.
He added: “Brain Power is also doing very well and the plan is to take him back to America for a race in August, so it wouldn’t do him any harm to have a spin on the Flat beforehand to blow the cobwebs away.”
Ruby Walsh: Galway Festival should be split in two
Former top class jump jockey Ruby Walsh believes that this year’s Galway Festival, which is set to be held behind closed doors if an when racing in Ireland is given the go-ahead to resume, could best best served if split into two meetings.
The meeting usually takes place over a continuous seven days at the end of July, but Walsh thinks that will be unfeasable during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Walsh, who was crowned leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival 11 times between 2014 and 2017, told Paddy Power News: “As it stands, Galway is going to take place behind closed doors. But do they still have seven days racing at the end of July when there’s no spin off for the city or the area? I don’t think so.
“I’d say the maximum Galway can go is four days. I can see all the summer festivals losing a day or two. The same with Killarney. These so-called festivals aren’t going to be festivals this year because the fun that goes with them isn’t going to be there.
“Regarding Galway, I think a lot of consideration has to go into their meeting. If the lift on restrictions happens in August, could we see the Galway Plate and Galway Hurdle take place at the September meeting?
“I don’t think they’ll push the Galway festival back two weeks but they could have a four-day Galway meeting in July and be more top heavy on Flat than it usually is. Just four days racing, with no crowd, in July. Then you could move the main jump races to the September meeting.
“Or could the September meeting in Galway host all the feature races? To me, splitting Galway up into two separate meetings could be the answer.”