British racing will resume with an eight-race all-weather card at Newcastle on Monday 1 June if government restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus ease sufficiently to allow the sport to take place behind closed doors, the British Horseracing Authority said on Thursday evening.
The full fixture list for the first eight days of racing if a resumption gets the go-ahead includes 18 meetings at seven tracks, and also confirms that the 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas, the first Classics of 2020, will be run at Newmarket, their traditional home, on 6 and 7 June.
After a single meeting on 1 June, there will be at least two meetings each day with three – one each in the north, south and midlands – scheduled from Saturday 6 June to Monday 8 June inclusive. In addition to Newmarket and Newcastle, there will be meetings at Haydock, Lingfield, Chelmsford, Yarmouth and Kempton Park.
There will be no regional restrictions on runners competing at any meetings, while the BHA will issue details about the participation of runners from overseas on Friday.
For the first eight racing days at least, attendance at meetings will be “limited to only those personnel required to deliver the race fixture, with the number able to attend determined by public health restrictions in place at the time.” However, “restrictions on attendance will be continually reviewed and gradually eased to accommodate connections, including owners and other raceday staff, in line with government guidance.”
The Levy Board, which returns money to racing from off-course betting, said on Thursday that it will commit £16.4m to prize funds over the first 10 weeks of racing when the sport resumes. The total is 23% higher than the £13.3m which was the Board’s original budget for the same period, and will cover a period when racecourse revenues will be severely limited, with meetings held behind closed doors and betting shops also likely to be closed, cutting off media rights payments to tracks.
The Racing League, a team-based competition which had been due to launch in July with rules banning the use of the whip for encouragement, has been postponed until 2021 as a result of the current suspension of racing due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The news marks the second postponement of the new concept, which was originally expected to launch in 2019 and is based around six race meetings on consecutive Thursday evenings in July and August.