First posted Saturday 30th May.

At the request of central Government, the governing body of racing, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has developed a plan for the resumption of racing and its operation, thereafter, under strict “behind closed doors” protocols.

Following the most recent round of Government announcements, there is good news for racing with the action now cleared to resume at Newcastle on Monday 1st June.

To best facilitate this next phase, a new provisional national fixture list was issued by the BHA on Friday 22nd May, covering dates from 1st June to the end of August, it is intended to help trainers prepare their horses and track operators prepare their racecourses. 

This draft fixture list allocates slots to York Racecourse starting with a still busy if rejigged July, being Thursday 9th July, Saturday & Sunday 18th & 19th July, then Saturday and Sunday 25th & 26th July. The traditional dates for the four-day Welcome to Ebor Festival are unchanged, being Wednesday 19th to Saturday 22nd August.

The British Horseracing Authority has confirmed the details of the race programme for July. This will mean the running of the Al Basti Equiworld Dante and Tattersalls Musidora on Thursday 9th July. The John Smith's Cup, Silver Cup and City Walls Stakes will be the feature contests of Saturday 18th July, with the William Hill Summer Stakes on Sunday 19th. On Saturday 25th July the Sky Bet York Stakes will be the headline race, whilst Sunday 26th sees the fillies in the spotlight in the European Breeder's Fund Lyric Stakes.

To create the national flexibility required by this new fixture list, unfortunately it does mean that the scheduled racedays with a crowd for July have been cancelled. Racegoers who had booked in advance for either John Smith’s Weekend (Friday 10th & Saturday 11th July) or Music Showcase Weekend (Friday eve 24th and Saturday 25th July) will be contacted by York Racecourse and offered a full refund or the chance to rollover their booking to summer 2021.

As the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival remains on its original dates and lies nearly three months away, there is no need to rush to any changes. York Racecourse will respond to any updated advice from either Government or the BHA, as the nation continues its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Racegoers are asked to remain patient in respect of our August racedays.

The resumption of racing is in the context of the Government confirming that the nation can now move into Step 2 of its national roadmap, so lies within the phased changes to the lockdown measures. Moreover, it has only been possible given the full support from Government and Public Health Authorities. It is noted that all of York’s fixtures lie beyond the planned current Step 3 of the Government’s national roadmap, which is scheduled for 4th July.

The operating protocols remain rightly focused on the health of those delivering the activity, its participants and the wider public.  

The situation will be closely monitored and any necessary responses will be taken. 

There is an understandable high level of detail in what is an evolving operational plan for York’s first raceday under this new fixture list, which is still over a month away. The focus is on the appropriate health screening regime before the event and on arrival, rigorous cleaning procedures across the venue and adherence to social distancing measures.

In terms of any fixtures held “behind closed doors” at York Racecourse, these would be strictly not for the public events, spectators are urged not to attend. 

To emphasize, the plan which is being developed will obscure key views of the racing action and there will be no provision of car parks, catering nor toilets. 

It is hoped the behind closed doors racedays will be covered by ITV as well as Racing TV.