Resumption plans advance with new race programme getting closer but purses hit
Owners and trainers in Britain should find out in the next week what races will be staged when the sport resumes following shutdown.
Karl Burke and others have claimed that not knowing the likely programme was hindering their preparation for a resumption.
But he and fellow licence-holders were sent an update from the Resumption of Racing group on Thursday night, revealing that courses have this week been invited to submit expressions of interest to stage fixtures.
The update stated: "To help trainers plan, during the next week we will be developing a provisional programme for the first seven days of racing following resumption – whatever the resumption date.
"We will then subsequently publish the rest of the provisional programme up until the end of June. This will be as close as possible to the original programme for the period, which means we will be looking to stage roughly the same number of races by type, class and distance.
"Ahead of this, we will issue a fixture cancellation notice for all fixtures that were originally scheduled to take place during May and June. This simply reflects the fact that we will be publishing a new provisional programme and does not seek to pre-empt or pre-judge any government decisions around lockdown or resumption."
No racing has been staged in Britain since March 17 and a return is dependent on getting approval from the government and meeting public health guidelines.
The resumption group, made up of representatives from the BHA, the Horsemen’s Group, the Racecourse Association and the Levy Board (HBLB), warned the new programme will offer lower prize-money.
"In normal circumstances, racecourses provide approximately half of prize-money, but with betting shops, which drive media rights income, closed and no crowds, their contributions will be significantly impacted," it said.
"Every effort will be made to keep prize money as high as possible, but reductions below recent levels are inevitable."
Details of lost Pattern and Listed events that will be rescheduled, in the second half of May in a best-case scenario, will be shared "at the earliest possible opportunity".
To help provide opportunities when jump racing resumes at the beginning of July, winners since the beginning of February will retain their novice status until November 30.
The update also revealed that BHA's chair Annamarie Phelps and chief executive Nick Rust met sports minister Nigel Huddleston earlier this week to discuss plans for resumption and the wider economic impact of Covid-19 on racing.
"The minister is aware of and supports the work being undertaken for resumption at the earliest safe opportunity," the resumption group said.
"The discussion outlined that any restart would be subject to advice of public health authorities and could not apply undue pressure on medical services and available testing. It also considered how continued exercise of racehorses during the lockdown could reduce the time for competition to resume."
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