Update regarding international runners and two-year-old races

15 May 2020 BHA Features Racing/Fixtures

International Runners

Following further discussion with the Flat Pattern Committee, as well as France and Ireland, and in the light of the rapidly developing situation internationally, the BHA has today clarified the policy regarding foreign-trained runners following the resumption of racing, which British racing is currently planning to take place behind closed doors from 1 June. These discussions have been held against the backdrop of an overriding desire to see racing resume in Britain as soon as possible, with all the necessary protocols in place, such that we can ensure that racing can continue and ultimately revert to its pre-agreed programme.

Should racing resume on this date, it is agreed that protecting ourselves against unnecessary risk in the opening few weeks is a responsible and proportionate approach. As a result, foreign-trained runners will only be permitted to run in the three Group 1 races taking place in Britain during the first fortnight (Coronation Cup, 2000 Guineas and 1000 Guineas), in order to help facilitate a safe and smooth resumption. International runners will not be permitted to take part in Group 2, 3 or Listed races during this period, but will be able to participate in all Pattern and Listed races taking place in Britain from 15 June 2020 onwards.

Furthermore, no internationally-trained horses will be permitted to take part in any races of Class 2 and below until further notice. This step has been taken to help address concerns that with a reduced fixture list in place, the number of eliminations is likely to be a significant issue when racing resumes. This position will be kept under review and revisited as soon as circumstances allow.

Two-year-old races

In the expectation that the first week of resumption will see extremely high demand for 2yo races, and that these will be of great importance to 2yo fields at Royal Ascot, the following measures will be introduced:

Volume of 2yo races

There are currently 14 2yo races scheduled for the first eight days following resumption. With 2yo races given first priority to divide, we expect that each will have two divisions, should sufficient demand exist.  In addition, at fixtures where stabling capacity allows, it is possible that races may divide more than once, provided the number of races each day does not exceed 10.

Elimination from 2yo races

With no 2yo having run previously, elimination from 2yo races would normally be by ballot alone. To help ensure that 2yo races at Royal Ascot feature the best horses, this will be amended for the first eight days of racing only.  Trainers will be asked to identify specific horses that they would like to see given priority against elimination from any division of the currently programmed 2yo races. The number of horses that can be selected by any trainer will be based on their previous record with 2yos in Open Maiden or Novice races as well as the number of runners that they have had in Royal Ascot 2yo races in the last three years.  Trainers that qualify for the priority system will be contacted over the weekend to be informed of the number of nominations open to them.

This is clearly an unprecedented step, but is intended to help ensure the fields at Royal Ascot are made up of the best horses where possible. Trainers will be emailed on Saturday 16 May to confirm the number of horses that they can prioritise and will have until 25 May to make their submissions.

Elimination from Royal Ascot 2yo races

Elimination from Royal Ascot races will be based purely on previous finishing positions, with priority given in the following order:

  1. Horses that have won a race
  2. Horses that have finished second in a race
  3. Horses that have finished third in a race
  4. Horses that have finished fourth in a race
  5. Unraced horses
  6. Horses that have run but have not been placed in the first four

Restricted 2yo races

Although only three restricted 2yo races have been programmed in the first eight days, a greater number will be added once the initial demand for racing is met. In total, approximately one-third of all 2yo races staged throughout the season will either be an auction or median auction race.

Race programme note

The Brigadier Gerard will now be staged at Haydock Park on Sunday 7 June rather than Newmarket on Friday 5 June. The updated version of the race programme is available here.