First four classic races of the season postponed

Epsom's Derby Festival has been cancelled due to the outbreak of Coronavirus.
Epsom's Derby Festival has been cancelled due to the outbreak of Coronavirus.

The Jockey Club has announced that the first four classic races of the season - the 1000 and 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Oaks and the Derby at Epsom - will not be run on their scheduled dates due to the ongoing public health crisis surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic. 

The QIPCO Guineas Festival on the 2nd and 3rd of May and the Investec Derby Festival on the 5th and 6th of June have been scrapped, though due to the importance of the classic races, the Jockey Club is hoping to run all four contests later in the year once the season has been restarted - with suitable preparation races. 

Amy Starkey, who runs Newmarket Racecourses as East Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, said: “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.

“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.”

Phil White, who runs Epsom Downs Racecourse as London Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, added: “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.

“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.”

Meanwhile, Ruth Quinn, Director of International Racing and Racing Development at the BHA, added that it was the Authority’s priority to maintain the classic races. She said: “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. 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.”

The Epsom Derby
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