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New lockdown rules mean France can race behind closed doors

Hopes remain high that French racing will avoid a shutdown despite the return of the country to stringent lockdown from Friday
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Racing in France will continue despite the reintroduction of a national lockdown across the whole of the country.

But French racing's three-and-a-half month spell with crowds on course ends on Friday as the sport is forced back behind closed doors.

France's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu told the National Assembly that "the continuation of sport conducted as a profession was guaranteed." While racing falls under the ministerial jurisdiction of agriculture and budget, in nearly all respects it has been treated the same as other sports during the reopening phase of the epidemic. 

Confirmation that racing could continue came on Friday in a newly-published government decree on the Covid-19 health state of emergency.

The news was welcomed by the BHA as further evidence that the sport can continue to operate in Britain, even as a second wave of the virus forces authorities into stricter measures.

"Owing to its categorisation as an elite sport and the strict Government-agreed protocols in place at race meetings, racing is continuing behind closed doors in Tier 3 areas while other industries are being forced to close down," said a BHA spokesperson. 

"In Wales racing has been permitted to continue throughout their ongoing lockdown, while the Labour party, who have been proposing a national circuit breaker, is not proposing that elite sport including racing would be suspended in this scenario.

"We also note that racing has continued behind closed doors in Ireland, France and other nations who have been placed under more strict lockdowns recently."

While precise details of the lockdown are due to be announced by prime minister Jean Castex, the French Tennis Federation has announced that the Masters Tournament will take place at Bercy in Paris, while France have named their starting XV to face Ireland at the Stade de France on Saturday in the final round of Rugby Union's Six Nations. 

President Emmanuel Macron announced a second national lockdown in a televised address on Wednesday evening.

French president Emmanuel Macron announced a second national lockdown on Wednesday evening

The lengthy address was light on detail and made no direct reference to sport but this lockdown, which will last until at least December 1, will have more flexibility than the first, with schools remaining open and travel for work allowed. 

Ralph Beckett, Kevin Ryan and Tom Dascombe have all declared runners for Chantilly's card on Saturday and have received no notice of potential disruption from the French Authorities. 

Ryan has one of the likely favourites for the Group 3 Prix Seine-et-Oise in Last Empire, a Listed winner at the course earlier this month, who has already completed the journey as far as Newmarket.

Meanwhile Dascombe said he planned to send Brad The Brief unless advised the meeting was off. 

"I have taken the view, like I do with every single race, that if you keep them in, you can always take them out," said Dascombe. "But if you take them out, you can’t put them back in."

Under the lockdown measures all restaurants and bars will close their doors, including those that offer PMU betting, meaning a significant blow to racing's finances.

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While there's no real confirmed news, I intend to run him and the only reason he wouldn’t is if he is not allowed to
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