Derby in July in plans for England

Cheltenham
Authorities hope to run the English Derby when racing resumes in Britain behind closed doors.

A Guineas meeting in early June and the Derby and Oaks run in early July feature in the British Horseracing Authority’s best-case scenario when racing resumes.

With racing suspended indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic, the season’s first four Classics have been delayed from their usual slots in the calendar.

The Resumption of Racing Group is working to draw up provisional plans for when racing is able to return, with “a phased approach” behind closed doors anticipated in the immediate stages.

In a communication sent to trainers on Friday evening, the BHA said it was unlikely the entire black-type program would be held this year.

But the group said it would do everything possible to safeguard Group One races including the three-year-old Classics.

With Royal Ascot still scheduled in its traditional mid-June slot, the meeting could be sandwiched by the Classic cards.

“Our planning would allow for the Guineas to be run in early June, and the Derby and Oaks in early July, with Royal Ascot still scheduled to take place in its existing slot commencing on June 16,” the BHA said.

“In this scenario, we would also be looking to stage several key Classic trials, and other trial races feeding into Royal Ascot, during the second half of May.”

The BHA concedes some of the principal Group One races for older horses need to move to different dates, especially to accommodate the early Classics, and some may not be open to three-year-olds this year.

“This outline structure will need to be based on what is collectively best for the thoroughbred and the industry as a whole,” the BHA said.

“And as with the wider race program, it is contingent on external factors and will need to be adapted based on what’s feasible in terms of when racing can commence and in what form.

“With no income from crowds and betting shops possibly remaining closed, there will be a greater reliance on the Levy Board for funding, so fixtures are likely to be limited and prize money impacted.”

Jumps racing is scheduled to recommence on July 1 and the BHA is planning to base those fixtures on the original program.