Horse Racing News during lockdown – Thursday 23rd April 2020

The Cheltenham Festival seems a long time ago don’t it? Only six weeks really but it feels like a lifetime ago! Naturally any racing here in the UK this month aint going to happen but there is just the slightest glimmer of light at the end of a very long tunnel.  

So far, only the four Classics the 2,000 Guineas, 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and Derby, are confirmed to be rescheduled with the BHA calling them "generation-defining races". As I write it is hoped the Guineas will be run in early June, and the Derby and Oaks in early July. At the moment there is a real danger a number of other early season Group Ones, such as the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes due to take place at Newbury in May, will not be run. It is highly unlikely that the whole black-type schedule as we know it can be staged in 2020. The BHA are on record as saying they are "prioritising the scheduling of the Classics, as well as the other key races which are aimed at horses most likely to provide a future fundamental role on behalf of the breed".

Over the Channel racing in France is set to resume behind closed doors from 11th May, France Galop announced on Tuesday this week. Racing had been suspended since the 17th March. When they get going only the trainer, jockey and one groom will be permitted on the racecourse for each runner. No date has been set on when these measures will be lifted, and they will be in place "as long as necessary". A fixture list will be published later this week, but it will be a watered down one, they have similar problems to us here in Blightly with not all tracks able to meet safety requirements. Also similar to here, the plan is for the French 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas to be raced the first weekend in June, with the French Derby and Oaks in early July.  

I was interested to read talks between Chelmsford City and Churchill Downs are ongoing as the Essex all-weather track hopes to reschedule its Kentucky Derby qualifier which offers a chance for our horses to feature in America's biggest race. The Coronavirus pandemic had wiped out both the qualifying meeting at Chelmsford, in early April, and the American Classic itself but the Kentucky Derby has been rescheduled for 5th September and the race's officials are reportedly "very keen" for Chelmsford to run the qualifier again. The first running of the Cardinal Stakes last year was won by Bye Bye Hong Kong – who wasn’t sent across the pond in the end - but we might get to see some good’uns line-up this year at Triple G’s local track perhaps sometime in August.  

For now, stay safe, please stay home, and of course be lucky!