A file picture of Christophe Soumillon in action at the Longchamp race track in Paris. The track will come alive with Group 2 Prix d’Harcourt, a prestigious 2,000 metre contest, which will be the first racing event to be held in the country after COVID-19 lockdowns. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: Flat racing is making positive steps in the wake of coronavirus with France set to stage a major card featuring the Classic trials and the Group 2 Prix d’Harcourt, a prestigious 2,000 metre contest which was won by Godolphin’s Ghaiyyath last year, on Monday (May 11).

Racing will be held behind closed doors and in accordance with stringent safety regulations issued by the French Government. This will be the first meeting since racing was stopped in France on March 17 as the outbreak swept across the country.

Edouard de Rothschild, the president of France Galop, the governing body for flat and steeplechase racing in France, has said that Paris police have given permission for racing to resume activities.

“We obtained and received from the Prefecture of Police in Paris authorisation to resume racing on May 11. This is great news and a real victory!” he revealed on Twitter.

France Galop CEO Olivier Delloye commented: “The plan is still there. We’re still aiming to resume racing on all the major racetracks – including in Paris – and we have no red light regarding racing’s resumption at that stage. It’s a case of so far so good.

“Of course the fact an area is labelled a green zone would give you more confidence to resume racing as early as possible, but being red does not necessarily mean that racing is not possible. I think it will be a case by case scenario.

“I believe we’ve got a good case to really protect and defend our position to resume racing on May 11.”

Chantilly Racecourse, traditional home to the Prix Du Jockey Club (French Derby) in the city of Chantilly, has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic but has since made a good progress to recovery.

Delloye explained: “We got some very positive feedback from Chantilly because this is in an area that was badly hit by Covid-19 earlier in March. It was a question mark whether the local authorities would let racing resume as early as May 11.

Meanwhile, French Gallop also revealed the revised dates for season’s Group 1 races with the French 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas now set to take place on a Monday, June 1.

Racing will be held behind closed doors in with only the trainer, jockey and one groom permitted on the racecourse for each runner.

Horses and jockeys based outside of France are prohibited from competing until at least the end of May.

All sport with the exception of horseracing, which is under the remit of the agricultural ministry, has been suspended until September in France.

Revised Group/Grade 1 French races dates

May 11: Racing restarts with Classic trials, including the Group 2 Prix d’Harcourt

June 1: French 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas, Longchamp

June 7: Grand Steeple Chase de Paris and Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil, Auteuil

June 13: Prix Alain du Breil and Ferdinand Dufaure, Auteuil

June 14: Prix Saint-Alary and Prix Ganay, Longchamp

June 28: Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, Saint-Cloud

July 5: Prix du Jockey Club and Prix de Diane, Chantilly

July 12: Prix Jean Prat, Deauville

July 19: Prix d’Ispahan, Chantilly

August 2: Prix Rothschild, Deauville

August 9 Prix Maurice de Gheest, Deauville

August 16: Prix Jacques le Marois, Deauville

August 23: Prix Jean Romanet and Prix Morny, Deauville

September 13: Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris, Longchamp