An initial programme for the first seven days of racing when the sport eventually resumes in Britain is set to be published in the coming week.
The last meetings to take place were at Wetherby and Taunton on March 17, both behind closed doors. No date has yet been set for a resumption, and while it will only do so with the appropriate Government approval, planning continues to take place.
An update to trainers from the Resumption of Racing Group on Thursday evening said: “To help trainers plan, during the next week we will be developing a provisional programme for the first seven days of racing following resumption – whatever the resumption date.
“We will then subsequently publish the rest of the provisional programme up until the end of June. This will be as close as possible to the original programme for the period, which means we will be looking to stage roughly the same number of races by type, class and distance.
“Ahead of this, we will issue a fixture cancellation notice for all fixtures that were originally scheduled to take place during May and June. This simply reflects the fact that we will be publishing a new provisional programme and does not seek to pre-empt or pre-judge any Government decisions around lockdown or resumption.
“We will also look to confirm prize money values as soon as possible. In normal circumstances, racecourses provide approximately half of prize money, but with betting shops, which drive media rights income, closed and no crowds, their contributions will be significantly impacted.
“Every effort will be made to keep prize money as high as possible, but reductions below recent levels are inevitable.”
The group – which comprises representatives from the British Horseracing Authority, the Horsemen’s Group, the Racecourse Association and the Horserace Betting Levy Board, said: “This week, racecourses have been invited to submit expressions of interest to stage fixtures under plans for the resumption of racing. This process will support the development of a provisional race programme.
“As explained in previous updates, the plan for resumption is based on a phased approach that supports the transition of racing back to a normal fixture list, in a controlled and measured way. Different scenarios – or ‘phases’ – have been developed, which can be implemented and adapted as circumstances require, in accordance with public health guidelines.
“It’s possible that not all phases will be required, but at this stage all scenarios are being considered so that we are prepared to race under whatever circumstances exist at the time that racing is able restart.
“In the early stages of this model, racing would resume behind closed doors under strict conditions, at locations that meet specific criteria around risk mitigation and infection control. This may include full quarantine conditions at secured sites if absolutely necessary, or behind closed doors racing, with sites limited to those that are able to meet strict hygiene conditions, social distancing measures and appropriate medical provision.
“Under the strictest infection control scenarios, attendance at the site(s) would be limited to staff essential to delivering the race fixture. These restrictions on personnel will be continually reviewed and gradually eased to accommodate connections, including owners and trainers, in line with Government guidance.”
Confirming field sizes will be restricted to 12 runners initially, the most experienced riders will be used, which includes jockeys who claim a maximum of 3lb. There are no plans to restrict the number of runners that any owner or trainer can have in a single race.
To help more horses become eligible for a handicap rating after two runs, horses will qualify for a rating if they have finished in the first six places on both of their first two starts.
The group said: “As outlined last week, under our best-case scenario planning, the aim is to save a number of Pattern and Listed events from early spring by rescheduling them, ideally in the second half of May.
“We will share this list of races at the earliest possible opportunity, together with those races that have been cancelled and will not be rescheduled. As noted previously, a later restart would require these plans to be adjusted accordingly.
“Overall, the key principles for the black-type programme for 2020 are that the Classics are the priority, and that the flagship older-horse races will need to be slotted in around them.”
Racing in France is set to resume on May 11, with action pencilled in for Germany on May 4. The possible participation of foreign runners in the French Guineas has not yet been ruled out.
The communication added: “Earlier this week, Brant Dunshea (BHA chief regulatory officer) joined a call with representatives from France, Ireland and Germany, where it was noted that some European nations have resumed racing behind closed doors this week, including Norway. Germany will resume from next week and work continues in France and Ireland toward resumption planning.
“Our French colleagues are working on a resumption behind closed doors from May 11. It will be a step by step process as racing resumes in France with no foreign runners permitted until 1 June. However, subject to multiple factors including an easing of government travel restrictions, France Galop hopes to be welcoming foreign runners from that date, when they plan to run the French Guineas.
“Germany has also confirmed that foreign runners will not be permitted until at least May 22 (inclusive).”
Source : Sky Sports