What UK Horse Racing Events are Still Going Ahead Despite COVID-19?

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What UK Horse Racing Events are Still Going Ahead Despite COVID-19?

The world of sport in general has been plunged in turmoil by the global pandemic of coronavirus, otherwise known by its medical term of COVID-19.

As of 23 March, there will be no horse racing of any kind in England until May but it’s continuing on the island of Ireland on both sides of the border, one meeting per day – unless things change.

The coronavirus pandemic has left things in a state of flux but, as of the time of writing, these horse racing events are still going ahead with bets being taken as well.

Fairyhouse Easter Festival

There may be no Grand National at Aintree this year, but the Irish equivalent at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday is still set to take place. The Irish National headlines the third and final day of the Easter Festival which has undergone some changes to its format and dates for this year.

This event used to run from Easter Sunday through until the following Tuesday but, after poor race attendance figures on that last day, Horse Racing Ireland have altered the programme. All three days of jumps action at Fairyhouse will now take place over the Easter weekend itself.

The Tuesday often felt a little bit like after the Lord Mayor’s show, but the Festival now culminates in the Irish Grand National instead. This is the Emerald Isle’s richest handicap chase with 30 horses tackling a trip of almost three and three-quarter miles.

With Aintree off in the UK, the Irish National could see some of the top National Hunt staying chasers actually running at Fairyhouse. No overseas entries including the UK will be allowed to take part, however, during the three-day meeting that starts on Saturday, 11 April.

There are also two Grade 1 events at the Easter Festival. The Fairyhouse Gold Cup – a novice chase over two-and-a-half miles – and the Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final. Both of these races are scheduled for Easter Sunday.

Punchestown Festival

As it stands, the end of the Irish jumps season and five fabulous days of National Hunt action at Punchestown are still pencilled in for the end of April and early May. There is Grade 1 action galore as the curtain comes down on yet another wonderful campaign.

The traditional Punchestown programme is likely to be kept with no alterations. The Festival kicks off with the feature two-mile Punchestown Champion Chase on Tuesday, 28 April. The following day’s card has the Punchestown Gold Cup as its highlight.

Thursday at the Punchestown Festival builds to the Champion Stayers Hurdle, while the Friday feature is the Punchestown Champion Hurdle. The mares and juveniles have their own championship races on the fifth and final day of the meeting which this year is scheduled for Saturday, 2 May.

Each of these Punchestown cards also has novice events including five other Grade 1s, races over the banks course for Cross Country horses, a raft of handicaps over hurdles and fences, and National Hunt Flat races that are both prestigious and valuable. This Festival has something for every punter.

Guineas Weekend

Among the first horse racing action we will see in the UK when the sport resumes are the first two Classics of the Flat season on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket. The blanket ban ends on Friday, 1 May – just 24 hours before Guineas Weekend.

The 2000 Guineas is the highlight on day one of this Festival. Pinatubo has been a hot favourite since the autumn after completing his impressive juvenile campaign unbeaten for powerful global owners Godolphin and their retained British trainer Charlie Appleby.

Supporting races on the Saturday include the Group 3 Palace House Stakes – a sprint contest over the flying five furlongs – and the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes for older horses over a mile-and-a-half.

The Sunday of the Guineas Festival is all about fillies and mares, with the 1000 Guineas restricted to female three-year-olds. Also run on 3 May are the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes for older fillies and mares over nine furlongs, and a Listed trial for the Epsom Oaks in the mile-and-a-quarter Pretty Polly Stakes. This shouldn’t be confused with the Group 1 race of the same name in Ireland.

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