By Gary Nutting, Horsetrader.net
Talks are at an advanced stage aimed at keeping the Derby at Epsom this summer – as the centrepiece of a one-day ‘behind-closed-doors’ meeting that would also feature the Oaks.
Historically the two Classics have been run on separate days, but plans are having to be redrawn due to ongoing restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Jockey Club, British Horseracing Authority and Epsom itself would prefer the races to remain at their traditional home – though there are concerns as to how the ‘right to roam’ on public land in the centre of the course may impact on social distancing guidelines.
An alternative option would be to move the Derby and Oaks to another venue – as happened in the relevant World War years (1915-1918 and 1940-1945) when they were switched to Newmarket.
The races, dating back to 1780 and 1779 respectively, have a rich history in world sport, especially the Derby – the globe’s most famous Flat race.
Sources with strong links to the discussion process have told me a decision is expected soon but they are minded not to comment publicly at this stage.
British racing, which shut down after the jump meetings at Taunton and Wetherby on March 17, is on standby to resume behind closed doors once it receives ministerial approval.
Four of the five Classics have already been postponed to unspecified dates, with venues also yet to be confirmed.
The 1000 and 2000 Guineas, due to have been staged at Newmarket at the end of next week, are pencilled in for early June, with the Derby and Oaks put back from June 5-6 to a provisional July slot.
French racing, also locked down since mid-March, has announced a May 11 resumption with a newly-scheduled meeting at ParisLongchamp featuring four Group races – without spectators and under strict public health controls for those professionals allowed to attend.