It’s always darkest before the dawn and today’s latest news on the sporting calendar is another postponement this time for the first four British horse racing classics, including the Investec Derby at Epsom.
The QIPCO Guineas Festival at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile and The Investec Derby Festival at Epsom Downs Racecourse will not now be staged 2nd/3rd May and 5th/6th June respectively, due to the ongoing public health emergency.
In a statement issued today, the Jockey Club said that “Given the importance of the three-year-old Classic programme to the careers of that generation of horses, and the racing and bloodstock industries as a whole, Jockey Club Racecourses is now in talks with the British Horseracing Authority, participants and other key stakeholders, including the Horserace Betting Levy Board and commercial partners, to reschedule the first four Classics at later dates, once racing has resumed in Britain.”
“With less than a month until the QIPCO Guineas Festival, trainers need to know whether to step up preparations for their Guineas horses or put that on pause for a later date,” said Amy Starkey who runs Newmarket Racecourse.
“The future is too uncertain at the moment and there is no opportunity for any preparation races before such important contests for the 2020 Classic generation.”
“Therefore we feel now is the right time to take the decision to cancel the QIPCO Guineas Festival and turn our attention to determining, in conjunction with the BHA, participants and stakeholders, the earliest possible opportunity to reschedule the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and the QIPCO 1000 Guineas.”
“Following consultation with our many event stakeholders and in order to comply with current government guidance, given the unique nature of the Downs as a public space, sadly it is not practical to stage The Investec Derby Festival on 5th and 6th June,” added Phil Smith who runs Epsom.
“We are now working with the sport to explore our options to reschedule, at minimum, The Investec Derby and The Investec Oaks, as part of delivering the 2020 Classic programme for three-year-olds. We thank all involved for their pragmatism and patience as we work this through together.”
“As a sport, we have a responsibility to safeguard the staging of our Classics and to position them within a sensible, balanced schedule of complementary events wherever possible,” said Ruth Quinn, Director of International Racing and Racing Development at the BHA.
“We will continue to work together to deliver the optimal outcome within these unprecedented set of circumstances.”
“We are developing plans to help ensure that a suitable race programme, for the long-term health of the sport, can be delivered in these challenging times. Naturally one of the key priorities is the staging of the generation-defining races.”
“The plan will adapt depending on when racing recommences but will aim to ensure that we provide suitable opportunities for the horses most likely to define the future of the thoroughbred breed if at all possible.”