According to its latest press release, The British Horseracing Authority Resumption of Racing Group is yet to publish a date when the sport will return to our racecourses. The Group is working on a ‘number of models’ which will serve as a transitory phase through which the sport can return to its full ﬁxture list. At present, it seems racing is certain to begin behind closed doors at courses which ‘can demonstrate they can meet the conditions speciﬁed in each resumption model’. In short; the BHA is considering courses that have easily accessible accommodation to house jockeys, trainers, staﬀ etc. Newcastle and Lingﬁeld are examples of this, as they have neighbouring hotels.
The BHA wish to provide opportunities for all classes and age groups of horses, including 2yos where they will limit the number of participants in each race and thankfully this will scupper the modus operandi of the likes of Mark Johnston and Richard Hannon who flog their juveniles. Both are happy to run multiple entries (for different owners) in the same race compromising integrity, and run these babies hard through their first season compromising chances of potential and longevity. Grotesquely and ironically, there will be 2yos racing for them who will make it to the track as 4yos because of coronavirus (COVID-19).
With the limit on the number of participants in place, the BHA accepts that some lower-rated horses may be balloted out. As a result, increased divisions of races on each day will be permitted, meaning race cards will be longer. The BHA hopes to have a date for resumption in place within the next fortnight, and they are already aiming for the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas to take place in June. Royal Ascot will start on 16 June (as planned), and the Oaks and the Derby are likely to take place on the same day in July, hopefully at Epsom.
At the moment, Jumps courses have been invited to apply for ﬁxtures from 1 July onwards, assuming they can meet the conditions in each resumption model. Initially, it looks likely that all races will have a limit of twelve runners, as statistically the risk of accident is lower for this safety limit. In addition, races will be ridden by ‘senior’ jockeys only, although the description of ‘senior’ has not yet been clariﬁed. The BHA plans to balance ‘unavoidable risk, whilst providing as many opportunities as possible for horses who are ready to run’.
The Racing Horse hopes the two bumper weekends of Classic trials take place at the end of May under the “best-case scenario” planning for the resumption of racing and we are working towards that date. The proposed fixture list will begin to be published next week, with a sub-group of the Flat Pattern Committee helping to prepare a Pattern and Listed programme, prioritising the Classics and “other flagship races for horses most likely to provide a future fundamental role on behalf of the breed”.
Ruby Walsh said: "Racing has some big challenges to face and overcome but I think it can and, being a solitary sport, it has a bigger chance of resuming (sooner) than a lot of team sports. There is a golden opportunity for racing to showcase itself to a much broader audience in the coming weeks and months” and our thoughts exactly!
Over the weekend, there has been a big move for ‘Yes’ in the ‘UK racing to resume on or before 1st June’ on the Betfair Exchange. It has shortened into 1.35, which is a 74% chance that racing will begin before 1st June 2020. Over £348,000 has been matched on the market, with the ‘yes’ option being matched as high as 2.6 at one stage. The ‘No’ option is available to back at 3.65, which traded as low as 1.63 a few weeks ago.
Our information library has been tidied and up to date and everything is in place for the resumption where the intention is to offer the best chance for members to make a profit from racing. Once again there will be strict limit to membership where we have just 20 places available for UK residents and a small number for those worldwide. Priority will go to existing and March members.