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Few changes to flat season

Full spread of Group races for this year

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Runners and riders pass the Aga Kahn Stand at The Curragh last August. Pic: Sportsfile

Runners and riders pass the Aga Kahn Stand at The Curragh last August. Pic: Sportsfile

Runners and riders pass the Aga Kahn Stand at The Curragh last August. Pic: Sportsfile

Minimal changes have been made to the revised Irish flat racing programme, with a full complement of Group races and the majority of Group One contests retaining their original dates.

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) chief executive Brian Kavanagh acknowledged that 2020 is "anything other than a normal year" but that the flat programme would remain the same aside from a few notable exceptions.

The Group One Tattersalls Gold Cup moves to July and will be now open to three-year-olds but there are few other changes as racing is set to resume behind closed doors at Naas on June 8, having missed 87 fixtures since March 24.

Kavanagh said: "The revised list of Pattern races will see the many of them run on their original dates and under their typical conditions, though inevitably some have had date, race conditions and even venue changes to allow them fit into the new schedule.

"Apart from the three Group One races normally run on Guineas weekend, all other Group One races in Ireland will be run on their originally scheduled dates and venues. The two-year-old Group race programme starts six weeks later than normal, in early July.

"But again, the full complement of opportunities will be run between then and season end. 2020 will be anything but a normal year, but in the circumstances, we have tried to preserve the opportunities which the Irish race programme offers to the better horse."

Meanwhile, French racing was dealt a major blow yesterday with government officials set to withdraw their approval to race in areas still heavily affected by the Coronavirus, including Paris and the east of the country.

Longchamp, Saint-Cloud (where racing took place yesterday) and Auteuil will be closed indefinitely until a further review of the situation is undertaken, with new government protocols set to be published over the coming days.

A statement from France Gallop said: "After obtaining permission to resume racing on Monday, May 11, the parent companies learned during the day that a government decree specifying the terms and conditions for the opening of the racecourses would be published in the next few days.

"This decree should specify that horseracing is indeed carried out in the departments located in the green zones but not in those located in the red zones. The regions in red are Ile-de-France, Hauts-de-France, Grand-Est and Bourgogne-Franche-Comte.

"While the resumption of racing is reinforced by this decree to be published, the parent companies and the Federation Nationale des Courses Hippiques deeply regret that the racecourses located in the red zones cannot operate as they have done since May 11."