Plans unveiled for British racing return

Two bumper weekends of Classic trials could take place at the end of May under the “best-case scenario” planning for the resumption of racing.

The British Horseracing Authority has been developing a provisional fixture list to ensure the sport is ready to restart when approved after being on hold since March 17 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposed fixture list will begin to be published next week, with a sub-group of the Flat Pattern Committee helping to prepare the program, prioritising the Classics and “other flagship races for horses most likely to provide a future fundamental role on behalf of the breed”.

Under the proposed schedule, the 1000 and 2000 Guineas trials will be held on the second last weekend in May, with the Nell Gwyn, Fred Darling, Greenham and Craven Stakes all slated to take place along with the Pavilion Stakes, which is a prep event for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

The intention is to split those Classic trials over the two days of that weekend.

Older horses would have their chance with the Brigadier Gerard, Sagaro, Pinnacle and Aston Park Stakes – all Group Three contests – also on the cards.

The Group One Lockinge is set to be the main event on the final weekend of May, with the Dante and Musidora – traditional Derby and Oaks trials – due to be run alongside the Yorkshire Cup.

The provisional plan for the first weekend of June includes the 1000 and 2000 Guineas.

Under the “best-case scenario planning”, Royal Ascot is still scheduled to take place in its existing slot, beginning on June 16, with the Derby and the Oaks held in early July.

The rescheduled races may have to be moved from their traditional venues and are likely to be restricted to British-trained runners, until at least May 30.

That policy would be in line with a similar approach taken by other international racing jurisdictions, with France not allowing foreign runners until June 1 and Germany not until until May 31.

The BHA has made it clear racing will only resume when given the go-ahead by government.

As part of planning for the resumption of racing, BHA chief medical adviser Dr Jerry Hill, along with representatives from other sports, met with representatives from Public Health England on Friday to discuss the safe return of top-level action.

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