Al Shaqab’s breeding operation Haras de Bouquetot has announced that it will close its doors on Monday for a period of at least two weeks due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Their roster is headed by exciting young prospect Shalaa and also features the Group 1 winners Olympic Glory, Al Wukair, Ectot, Toronado, Ruler Of The World, Zelzal and Mekhtaal.

In a statement published to their website, Bouquetot said: “In the current context of the human crisis and in the fight against the spreading of virus Covid-19, Haras de Bouquetot will cease all stallion coverings and will close its doors from Monday 23rd March, for at least two weeks.

“The covers already booked will be ensured until Sunday, new bookings will not be accepted.

“Fully aware of the economical impact this decision may have on breeders, our priority remains the health and safety of our staff and clients, considering the gravity of this crisis and in accordance with all drastic measures recently taken across Europe.”

Irish point-to-point fixtures cancelled

Stewards of the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee announced on Friday that the weekend’s point-to-point fixtures have been cancelled.

In a statement issued by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, it said: “In this very challenging and evolving environment, with increased numbers of Covid-19 cases reported over the past 24 hours, the Stewards of the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee have come to the difficult decision to call off all Point to Point meetings planned for the weekend.

“Point to Point meetings differ in many respects from racing on the track, not least in terms of the ability to enforce a ‘behind closed doors policy’.

“While it had been hoped that it would be possible for fixtures to go ahead under those conditions, it is the considered opinion of the Stewards that it may not be practicable in all respects to adhere to the strict social distancing protocols required, as will be enforced for all fixtures being staged at racecourses.

“The Stewards acknowledge the great efforts which were invested by many in the hope that Point to Points could continue under strict protocols, and they wish to reassure the Point to Point community that the will and means are there to re-instate fixtures as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.”

Dettori sets up fund to help Italian Red Cross

With the coronavirus pandemic severely affecting his native country Italy, jockey Frankie Dettori has started up a Go Fund Me page to raise funds for the Italian Red Cross.

The country has recorded a total of 41,035 known cases with around 3,405 deaths as of midday on Friday.

Writing on the page, Dettori said: “Coronavirus is affecting people across the whole world but, like I’m sure it is for lots of Italian people living in the UK, it’s horrifying to see the chaos this virus has brought to Italy.

“Being here in the UK, it’s difficult not to feel helpless as I see the impact the pandemic is having on the people of Italy. I grew up in Milan, the epicentre of the outbreak in Italy, and hearing from my friends and family about how their lives have been affected is heartbreaking.

“I want to show solidarity with the people of Italy during this moment of crisis, and I would urge all of my fellow Italians in the UK to do what they can to support our home country.

“The Croce Rossa Italiana (Italian Red Cross) is doing incredible work to help people affected with the virus, as well as supporting people in quarantine by providing much-needed supplies.

“I know the situation here in the UK is extremely serious, and I would encourage you to donate to the British Red Cross too if you are able, but please, if you are fortunate enough to be able to support this campaign, then do.”