When racing will resume at each Yorkshire course – the landmark dates
Yorkshire’s first race meeting since the Covid-19 shutdown is set to take place at Pontefract, it has been confirmed.
The West Yorkshire track has been allocated a meeting on June 10 after a draft fixture list was published by the British Horseracing Authority.
Details are subject to the Government giving clearance for racing to resume on June 1 – Newcastle is earmarked for the first fixture – and racecourses being able to meet protocols on social distancing.
Beverley, which has put on hold plans to redevelop its main grandstand, is due to stage its first meeting on June 11.
Doncaster, home of the St Leger, has been allocated a double-header on June 13 and 14 – one of a number of initiatives to minimise the number of racing personnel at meetings.
Pontefract are due to race again on June 15 before Thirsk hosts its first fixture of 2020 on the following day.
Redcar’s first meeting is on June 18 and racing resumes at Ripon on June 20.
However racing is not due to take place at Catterick until July 15 – part of the BHA plan is to gradually increase the number of racecourses hosting meetings as the Covid-19 threat recedes.
Six additional races are due to be staged at Royal Ascot this year - if the meeting is given the Government go ahead.
The first meeting at York is pencilled in for July 25. The Yorkshire Post revealed earlier this week that the course’s June fixtures were not going to be staged and officials are still working on plans to secure the Knavesmire if the Covid-19 lockdown is still in place.
However the course is still determined to hold its high-profile Ebor meeting in August.
Meanwhile Southwell is due to host a National Hunt meeting on July 1 – the first over jumps since Wetherby’s behind closed doors meeting on March 17.
Last week’s announcement followed confirmation that the Queen has given her back to six additional races being staged at Royal Ascot which is due to begin on June 16.
While all racing will take place behind closed doors, creating a surreal atmosphere at Ascot which is associated with pomp and pageantry, a number of changes have been unveiled to take account of this year’s exceptional circumstances.
The seven furlong The Buckingham Palace Handicap, lost from the card when the Commonwealth Cup was introduced in 2015, will open the meeting.
This will precede the Group One Queen Anne Stakes, the meeting’s traditional curtain-raiser, which was won in 2017 by Ribchester for Malton trainer Richard Fahey and jockey William Buick.
A Silver Royal Hunt Cup (1m) and a Silver Wokingham Handicap (6f) are included for those who miss the cut for the main events.
Also staged this year only will be the Copper Horse Handicap (14f, 4yo+), the Golden Gates Handicap (10f, 3yo) and the Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap (5f, 3yo).
Ascot say the Queen has graciously consented to these temporary new names – thereby signalling her backing for the meeting going ahead while the rest of the country is in a state of lockdown.
The Copper Horse is a statue of King George III mounted on horseback marking the end of the Long Walk in Windsor Great Park, adjacent to the racecourse.
The Golden Gates are the ceremonial entrance point for the Royal Procession at the end of the straight mile and the Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the Monarchy in Scotland.
Amongst the changes to the regular programme are the movement of the St James’s Palace Stakes and Coronation Stakes to the final day to maximise the time between them and the Guineas at Newmarket (June 6 and 7).
In order to provide two-year-olds with as much time as possible before the key races at Royal Ascot, the two-year-old programme has been moved back with four of the six races to be staged on Friday and Saturday.
The King Edward VII Stakes and Ribblesdale Stakes, now key Derby and Oaks Trials, will be on the opening day in order to maximise the gap to Derby and Oaks Day (July 4). The Hampton Court, also an eligible Epsom trial this year, will be run on day two.
Prize money is still to be confirmed – but it will be much reduced as racing comes to terms with new economic realities. ITV1 and Sky Sports Racing will both broadcast the meeting.
“We are most grateful to the BHA’s race planning team for their assistance in framing the additional races for this exceptional renewal of Royal Ascot,” said Nick Smith, director of racing and public affairs at Ascot.
“We are, of course, taking nothing for granted in terms of Government’s final approval to permit behind closed doors sporting events from June 1.”
These are anxious times for racing. Not only is the sport waiting for public health protocols to be signed off by the Government, but the Cabinet isn’t likely to consider any partial lifting of the lockdown, paving the way for the resumption of competitive sport, until this Thursday.
*Jockeys and stalls handlers are among those who will be required to wear masks under the protocols when racing resumes.
It follows publication of the sport’s public health blueprint ahead of its planned resumption on June 1 – subject to Government approval in the coming days.
The 33-page document outlines a series of measures to be employed should racing get the Government go-ahead to return to action for the first time since Wetherby’s meeting on March 17.