With a growing confidence that racing will be able to restart on June 1, the British Horseracing Authority on Wednesday announced revised plans to run the first Classics, the Qipco 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas at the end of the first week back - with the possibility of French and Irish runners.
Although the venues for the early fixtures are due to be announced on Thursday, the races, regarded as essential for testing the Classic generation, will be a feature of at least a two-day Newmarket meeting with the 2,000 Guineas on Saturday 6 June and the 1,000 Guineas on Sunday 7 June, during the opening week.
There will be no time for a prep-race and though international runners were barred from Britain until the end of May, they will be allowed to run in Pattern and Listed races from the start of June providing, one imagines, it is cleared their end.
So, it would seem, there is every chance of Aidan O’Brien improving on his 2,000 Guineas record of 10 winners and extending his current run to four wins although his best shot, Arizona, is a best priced 10-1.
Of course the proposal to start behind closed doors is heavily caveated but it is intended for Royal Ascot to begin on June 16, as always planned - while it remains happy to change its programme and move races to different days from their traditional slots, Ascot has always made it clear it would be reluctant to change its dates.
The Derby and Oaks will all be run on July 4 and the Eclipse, restricted to four-year-olds and above this year, a day later.
The plan to have a week of lo- key racing while officials, horsemen and racecourses get used to the behind-closed-doors and social distancing protocols, would now appear to have been shortened particularly as the Classic Trial for the Derby is due to be run on June 3 or June 4.
Other big races to be run in the first week include the Coronation Stakes, the Brigadier Gerard Stakes and the Lingfield Oaks and Derby trials on Friday June 5. As well as the 2,000 Guineas, the Sagaro Stakes, a Gold Cup trial, will be run on Saturday June 6 and the Pretty Polly, often a good guide to the Oaks, on Sunday’s 1,000 Guineas under card.