Racing remains on course to return in France on May 11 despite French prime minister Edouard Philippe announcing on Tuesday that professional sport would not restart before September.
A revised fixture list was published last week by France Galop – starting with a high-class card at ParisLongchamp that will feature a number of Classic trials – subject to the relevant approval and lifting of lockdown restrictions amid the coronavirus outbreak,
Strict hygiene measures to be enforced will mean meetings are held behind closed doors, with no foreign horses or participants allowed until at least the end of May.
France Galop chief executive Olivier Delloye told Sky Sports Racing: “The prime minister made quite a long speech this afternoon regarding the way the country will operate at the end of the quarantine period.
“As far as racing is concerned there is not so much breaking news, knowing that a couple of days earlier we got support from the two ministers who are in charge of supervising the racing and betting industry, who expressed their support for the resumption of racing on May 11.
“I do understand from an English perspective this creates some sort of confusion. You have to know that France Galop is not considered as a sport federation, so we are definitely not regulated by all the laws related to sport – we are regulated by the ministry of agriculture, so we are not really in the same situation as other sports.
“So we stick to what our ministers in charge of supervising our industry are telling us and they are telling us you can proceed with racing resumption on May 11, provided you fulfil all the commitments you are taking as far as the security and safety of people involved in racing being respected.
“Basically that means we will of course operate behind closed doors, which we did in early March before the start of the quarantine period.
“Our understanding today is that there will be some sort of freedom for local authorities to say you have the right to do this or maybe you don’t have the right to do that. Edouard Phillipe made it quite clear this afternoon that this will depend from an area to another depending on how important the coronavirus is in each of these areas.
“We are definitely backed at a national level by our ministers, having said that we might sometimes have locally some difficulty to resume racing on one racetrack or another, but I think we have to keep very flexible to perhaps relocate some fixtures to another racecourse if it proves difficult to go ahead everywhere.
“Our plan definitely assumes we will race as of mid-May on the Paris racetracks, but having said that if the Paris area proves to be a red one in terms of importance of the virus on May 11, maybe we will have to wait for another three weeks to resume racing in Paris. In this situation all the race fixtures might be relocated to Deauville or Chantilly, so we have B plans, C plans and D plans.
“We hope to not have to proceed to these alternative plans, but we are ready to do so if we have to.”