Blockbuster return of racing planned with Guineas set to be run at start of June
Royal Ascot scheduled to take place in its usual slot between June 16-20
British racing is planning for a blockbuster return as the first two Classics of the season remain scheduled for the first weekend in June within the latest provisional programme put forward by the BHA.
On Monday, the government announced that professional sport will not be staged in England until June 1 at the earliest, forcing the BHA's Flat pattern committee to adjust its revised schedule published on May 1.
It had hoped to run several high-profile stakes races during the final two weekends of May in the lead-up to the Qipco 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas but instead a number of Pattern contests will be staged in the first week of racing and all will be open to international runners.
Royal Ascot, which is set to take place behind closed doors, remains scheduled to take place in its usual slot between June 16 and 20, but there will be some changes to the order of the races.
Epsom will then host the Investec Derby and Oaks on July 4, after receiving official local approval to stage the Classics on Tuesday, with normal public access to racecourse land forbidden for 24 hours.
In a bumper weekend, the Coral-Eclipse has been pushed back a day to July 5 and will only be open to four-year-olds and older horses.
Provisional Pattern plan
Races to be run between June 3-4
Classic Trial (1m2f, 3yo, Group 3)
Snowdrop (1m, 3yo+ f, Listed)
Pavilion (6f, 3yo, Group 3)
Races to be run on June 5
Abernant (6f, 3yo+, Group 3)
Brigadier Gerard (1m2f, 4yo+, Group 3)
Paradise (1m, 3yo+, Listed)
Lingfield Oaks Trial (1m3½f, 3yo f, Listed)
Lingfield Derby Trial (1m3½f, 3yo cg, Listed)
Coronation Cup (1mf, 4yo+, Group 1)
Races to be run on June 6
2,000 Guineas (1m, 3yo cf, Group 1)
*Dahlia (1m2f, 4yo+ f, Group 2)
Palace House (5f, 3yo+, Group 3)
Sagaro (2m, 4yo+, Group 3)
Newmarket (1m2f, 3yo cg, Listed)
*Note: Distance change of the Dahlia to 1m2f
Races to be run on June 7
1,000 Guineas (1m, 3yo f, Group 1)
Pretty Polly (1m2f, 3yo f, Listed)
Buckhounds (1m2f, 4yo+, Listed)
Cecil Frail (6f, 3yo+ f, Listed)
Spring Trophy (7f, 3yo+, Group 3)
Pinnacle (1m4f, 4yo+ f, Group 3)
"The important thing is that the race planning around Royal Ascot reflects the unusual circumstances in which it's going to be run," said Nick Smith, director of racing and public affairs at Ascot.
"We must be mindful of the wider public health situation in June but we should still plan to go ahead and put together a Pattern that reflects the requirements of those involved in the sport. It will be different but will still absolutely be recognisable as Royal Ascot.
"With the Guineas much closer to the meeting than normal we'll have to work out how that affects our three-year-old races and it's obviously not an ideal situation preparing juveniles for Royal Ascot.
"Ordinarily you'd have considerably more time but those two-year-old races will be run and clearly they won't attract the number of experienced horses as normal. Alongside the Pattern races it's really important to develop a programme for as many juveniles as possible to get to Royal Ascot with some experience under their belts."
A provisional race programme for the first seven days of non-Pattern races was released on May 7, with meetings divided regionally, and the BHA expects to publish further detail on this period, as well as a provisional schedule for the second seven-day window, this week.
A statement released by the BHA on Wednesday read: "The aim remains to provide, as soon as possible, at least one Pattern or Listed opportunity covering the key distances for the different sections of the population for three-year-olds and up, with a suitable number of novice and conditions races for two-year-olds scheduled to ensure horses can have a chance to run prior to Royal Ascot.
"This provisional plan may need to be adjusted according to when and under what circumstances racing is safely able to recommence."
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