Dubai: British racing could lose some of it’s key races, many of which act as key trials for Royal Ascot and other major meetings, when the 2020 flat season resumes later this month.
Trainers, jockeys and owners are eagerly anticipating the UK government to give the go-ahead soon with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) saying that they are ‘ready to go within a week to help bring live sport back.’
BHA Chief Executive Nick Rust said on the BBC website that the final two weekends in May have been shortlisted for the season to resume, subject to the official clearance. A late start will, however, mean that leading races traditionally held in early May could be abandoned altogether.
Among them are the Cheshire Oaks, the Dee Stakes and Group 3 Ormonde Stakes at Chester, Lingfield’s Derby and Oaks Trials, Haydock’s Group 2 Temple Stakes, the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket, and Goodwood’s Cocked Hat and Height of Fashion Stakes.
The leading horses from the Temple and Ormonde Stakes often go on to compete in Royal Ascot’s top sprint races, the King’s Stand Stakes (G1) and the Coronation Cup (G1).
However, 16 Group races, including the high-profile Craven and Dante Stakes, key Derby (G1) trials, are provisionally scheduled to be run behind closed doors this month the last weekends on May.
Newbury Racecourse’s Group 1 Lockinge Stakes, another lead-up race for Royal Ascot’s opening day feature, the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, is expected to also take place in the final weekend.
The season’s first two Classics - the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas - will be held on the first weekend in June after being postponed from their original dates at Newmarket last weekend.
“Under our best-case scenario planning, and subject to advice from public health authorities, the aim is to rescue a number of lost events from the early part of the spring and stage them during the second half of May and early June, if possible,” said a statement issued by the British Horseracing Authority.
The BHA are also revising rules ahead of the expected return and in accordance with the guidelines issued by the National Health Service (NHS) with fields not to exceed 12 runners per race and to be ridden by senior jockeys to reduce the risk of injuries.
Last month, organisers of the famous Royal Ascot meeting were planning for it to go ahead, without spectators, from June 16. The Epsom Derby, the jewel in the crown of British racing, has been penciled in for July, one month later than it’s traditional date in the first week of June.
Meanwhile, racing has continued behind closed doors at race tracks in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Australia, Sweden, and in some American states.
France is scheduled to resume racing on Monday (May 11).