'The long break is nearly over' - BHA confident of Monday restart for racing
Plans for horseracing to return in Britain on Monday were given a boost by the BHA, with a spokesman for sport's governing body commenting on Friday that the absence of the sport is "nearly over".
Racing has been suspended since March 17 and the BHA is working towards a return at Newcastle on Monday. Race meetings will be held behind closed doors with strict testing and social distancing measures enforced.
In the prime minister's Thursday briefing, Boris Johnson announced some easing to lockdown measures in Britain, although sport was not specifically mentioned.
No official confirmation has been received that racing will resume after a 76-day absence on Monday, but the BHA is confident that Newcastle's behind-closed-doors meeting will be given the green light.
'Counting down the hours'
A BHA spokesperson said on Friday: "We're counting down the hours to the return of racing and looking forward to official confirmation from the UK government after it has published its guidelines for the resumption of sport in the next day or so. The long break is nearly over.
"This morning, we've been busy processing the declarations received for Newcastle's fixture on 1 June and we are now implementing our new medical screening procedures to ensure we safeguard those who plan to be there on Monday for racing's return."
Racing will return with a blockbuster line-up, headlined by the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket next weekend. ITV confirmed on Thursday that it plans to show 21 races live on the channel.
Ready to rumble @NewcastleRaces with x10 races sponsored kindly by @betway and full fields of 12 runners on Mon 1st June! Those travelling allow plenty of time to get in. Temperature testing station open from 7.30am. @SkySportsRacing @AtTheRaces pic.twitter.com/N4EPjJ0mIS— James Armstrong (@JRFArmstrong) May 29, 2020
Monday's planned return features a ten-race card from Newcastle starting at 1.00. Meanwhile, the action is supplemented by the French Guineas, due to be run at Deauville, on an action-packed afternoon.
A'Ali the star name across 533 Thursday entries
Top sprinter and last season's Norfolk Stakes hero A'Ali featured among 15 entries for Thursday's Group 3 Betway Pavilion Stakes at Newcastle.
Trained by Simon and Ed Crisford, A'Ali won three times at Group 2 level in his juvenile season and will bid to follow in the footsteps of Limato, Blue Point and his sire Society Rock by taking the 6f sprint, which has been moved from Ascot.
His principal rivals include Malotru, Dream Shot and Ventura Rebel, who was just a neck behind A'Ali at Royal Ascot.
Of the 533 entries on Thursday, 297 were in nine races at Newcastle, with the remaining 236 coming in seven races at Newmarket, which is due to host its first meeting of the year.
The feature race on the first of four consecutive racedays at Newmarket is the Six Handicap. The 7f handicap has attracted 29 entries. There are four two-year-old races on the card, with 146 entries.
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