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Newmarket Racecourses eager to host The Guineas once sport gets green light to resume




Plans are afoot for the resumption of racing later this month – and Newmarket Racecourses is ‘keen’ to be among those hosting some of the behind-closed-doors action.

The sport has been suspended in this country since March 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but last week the British Horseracing Authority announced a provisional fixture list for late May and early June, subject to government approval.

The governing body are seeking to save a list of Flat Pattern and Listed races that contains the likes of the Group 3 Craven and Nell Gwyn Stakes over the weekend of May 23-24, as well as the QIPCO 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas on June 6-7 – all contests ordinarily held at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course.

2000 Guineas day at Newmarket Rowley Mile Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Colts & Fillies).10. Magna Grecia.Winning jockey: Donnacha O'Brien.Winning trainer: A P O'Brien Picture by Mark Westley.
2000 Guineas day at Newmarket Rowley Mile Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Colts & Fillies).10. Magna Grecia.Winning jockey: Donnacha O'Brien.Winning trainer: A P O'Brien Picture by Mark Westley.

The BHA did warn circumstances may render it impossible to host all races at their traditional homes, but Amy Starkey, the regional director of the Jockey Club Racecourses East Region, has revealed Newmarket Racecourses are eager to retain their races.

“There is really good collaboration across the horse racing industry right now and we are planning for how we would resume without crowds once the government signals that it is appropriate to do so,” she said

“Given the totally unique and hugely challenging situation, we all need to be flexible and do what is best for the public and the many thousands of livelihoods in British racing, but naturally we are keen to run races traditionally staged at Newmarket at their normal home if this is possible, including the first two British Classics of the year – the QIPCO 1000 and 2000 Guineas.

Large crowds at the Rowley Mile. Picture: Richard Marsham
Large crowds at the Rowley Mile. Picture: Richard Marsham

“Newmarket is the home of horse racing, with so many racehorses trained in Newmarket and participants and support services based here. Newmarket Racecourses is well positioned to commence racing when the time is right.

“Until such time we, The Jockey Club, remain committed to supporting the Newmarket community, working with many community groups and organisations to support and help those people within our communities who need it.

“This activity included delivering 188 hot lunches to people across the Newmarket community in the most need.”

For trainers, the prospect of potential meetings on the horizon is a welcome one following a period of uncertainty.

Cambridgeshire Meeting at Newmarket Rowley Mile Saturday.Picture Mark Westley. (34356631)
Cambridgeshire Meeting at Newmarket Rowley Mile Saturday.Picture Mark Westley. (34356631)

There are now some dates pencilled in the diary, and therefore training programmes can start to take shape.

Group-winning trainer James Tate, who is based at Jamesfield Place on Newmarket’s Hamilton Road, said: “It has been a difficult situation for everyone.

“Things are still not certain, but it has been pleasing to see the BHA’s intentions.

“We certainly had some horses working a bit harder on Saturday. We probably had around 50 galloping on the grass and it was a lot busier up there than it had been recently.

James Tate. PICTURE: Mecha Morton
James Tate. PICTURE: Mecha Morton

“It has been a bit of a guessing game up until this point because you cannot have the horses at boiling point all of the time – you risk injury by doing that.

“But at the same time, you have to be ready because you cannot miss an opportunity.

“It looks like we will get going pretty soon after the lockdown is eased, and if we can get hit the dates mentioned then we now have a target to work towards.”


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