While no official date for the resumption of British racing has yet been agreed, the BHA have revealed they are ready to go as soon as the green light is given, and that a formal fixture list has already been drawn up.
In the first week alone, there will be thirteen meetings and more than 100 individual races contested. The first meeting will be held ‘in the North’, and then the six days following that there will be a pair of meetings per day with seven in the South, an additional three events in the North and two in the Midlands.
Of the 104 proposed races, 75 will be handicaps – higher than the normal 55-60% that weighted renewals make up, with 12 races for two-year-olds only and 17 maiden or novice outings for those aged three and above.
The reason for the higher number of handicaps is not known, although one theory is that these tend to attract more revenue for the bookmakers – crucial at a time when their trading has been significantly hit.
That was confirmed by a Betfair spokesman, Barry Orr, who said:
“From a bookmaking point of view, handicaps are the most attractive proposition for punters. Invariably you get over eight runners and a handicap is that for a reason – theoretically everyone has an equal chance.”
Unfortunately, there is likely to be a drop-off in prize money – yet to be confirmed by the BHA or the Levy Board, although media reports suggest that the kitty for the Investec Derby could be trimmed by up 33% on last year’s payout.
Irish Racing Fears Implosion After Resumption Delay
While the picture seems to be brighter in Britain, and racing has already been allowed to resume in France and Germany, there’s a rather bleaker feel in Ireland.
The government there has decided that racing will not return until June 29 at the earliest – later confirmed by Horse Racing Ireland.
There was hope that there would be a resumption in the first phase of the country’s ‘Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business’, as announced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar earlier this week. But he later ruled that out when confirming there would be no sport even behind closed doors until the ed of June at the very earliest.
And top trainer John Oxx is worried that might tempt some Irish yards to send their horses overseas to get in on the action – which could have a longer-lasting impact on the sport in Ireland.
“It would be a big setback. It would be very serious in fact,” Oxx said. “Our competitors, if you like, are starting up. Germany may not really be a competitor but they’re starting on Thursday. France is starting Monday.
“We don’t know about England, but they’re hoping for some time in the middle of the month.
“If we were way behind them it would be a big worry for trainers, because there is a danger that some owners with an international profile will be tempted to move horses. It would make us look very odd.”