The first four Classics of the British Flat racing season – the 1,000 Guineas, 2,000 Guineas, Oaks and Derby – will not be run on their original dates in May and June owing to the coronavirus outbreak that has shut down the country.
Jockey Club Racecourses announced the decision on Tuesday afternoon and revealed it is in talks with the British Horseracing Authority, participants and other key stakeholders to reschedule the races at later dates once racing has resumed in Britain.
The prospect of the Guineas meeting going ahead on the first weekend in May had looked increasingly unlikely with British racing currently suspended until the end of April.
Amy Starkey, 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 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 2,000 Guineas and the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas.”
The Guineas results are often a pointer towards the Derby and Oaks respectively, so it is no surprise that Epsom’s flagship races will also be postponed.
London Regional Director Phil White, who runs Epsom for Jockey Club Racecourses, said: “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.”
Ruth Quinn, Director of International Racing and Racing Development at the BHA, added: “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 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.”