French racing eager for May 11 return but Guineas could be moved from Paris
The news of a planned resumption of racing in France on May 11 has been welcomed by leading French trainer Nicolas Clement, who is relishing the chance to "put on a good show" when the sport is back.
More positive news followed that announcement from France Galop late on Tuesday evening, with the German racing body, Deutscher Galopp, appearing confident that racing in that country would resume on May 4.
Racing in France is set to continue behind closed doors, under strict measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Only one trainer, jockey and groom will be permitted for each horse while riders and horses based outside France will not be allowed to race.
The French Pattern is to be adjusted with races staged roughly a month later than usually scheduled.
Clement, president of the French trainers' association, confirmed the French Guineas is expected to be rescheduled for the first weekend of June and the French Derby and Oaks run in early July. A full schedule is expected to be released in the coming days.
French Classic races: potential schedule
June 6-7: Emirates Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (1,000 Guineas)
June 6-7: Emirates Poule d'Essai des Poulains (2,000 Guineas)
July 4-5: Prix du Jockey Club (Derby)
July 4-5: Prix de Diane Longines (Oaks)
Clement said: "It's good news but we're still waiting for approval from the government. We can't celebrate yet but it's positive – we want to race again. We're all hoping in May that it'll work out and we'll get our horses ready for that.
"Everything will be delayed by a month more or less, that's a technical condition that we've all agreed. The French Oaks and Derby will be held the first weekend in July and I believe the two Guineas will be at the start of June. We've had to adapt but there's been a good team to sort out the programme."
One potential issue could be where the two Guineas are staged. Healthcare services are already stretched in Paris and the races could be moved away from the capital.
"We're still waiting on the government as to whether they will allow us to run in Paris or outside," added Clement. "It could be that we're racing away from Paris with the sanitary measures and the hospital is very busy.
"It could be that the Guineas is run at Chantilly, Compiegne or Deauville – but this is one option and it'll need to be discussed. It all depends on the government as to when and where we can run.
"We think behind closed doors that we can put up a good show and we look forward to putting that show back on the road."
Peslier: I hope it starts in June
Top French jockey Olivier Peslier admitted to concerns regarding a May resumption but said he would ride if that date was met.
The four-time French champion rider believes a June start would lessen the risk of the virus spreading to the racecourse and potentially infecting people.
"I hope it starts in June," said Peslier. "You only have one life so I think we should take it step by step. With another few weeks we can be 100 per cent sure [of the situation]. You can start early, I know that, but sometimes it is better to wait until things are more clear.
"Instead of seven or eight races a day we could have ten or more. You could have that almost every day. It would be possible.
"I think we should keep quiet, keep the prize-money and have it a bit later – maybe the first weekend in June."
But he would ride from May 11 if that is when racing resumes. When asked, he replied: "I will ride, yes. I follow my trainers and owners so if they say go, then I will. I respect the date but I prefer to be safer."
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