Horse racing resumes in France, made to wait in Britain

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PARIS (AP) French horse racing resumed on Monday after a break of nearly two months because of the coronavirus pandemic, while the sport in Britain was made to wait until June 1 at the earliest for a restart.

Jockeys wore masks or face coverings and there was limited personnel on the famed Longchamp Racecourse in western Paris as authorities gave the go-ahead for France Galop to stage racing without spectators.

Strict social distancing and hygiene measures were also in place.

“What satisfaction to see this first race finally arriving,” Olivier Delloye, chief executive of France Galop, said on Twitter alongside a picture of some horses about to enter stalls.

Races were also held at Compiegne in northern France.

France is coming out of lockdown, with the nation having been confined since March 17.

The British government has announced a plan to gradually loosen restrictions in the country’s lockdown, but said there can be no sporting events until June 1 – and only then without spectators.

British horse racing, which has been on hold since March 17 and had hoped to resume without spectators sometime this month, announced it was “committed to plan for resumption on June 1.”

The British Horseracing Authority said officials would publish within the next seven days a timeline setting out what racing needs to do to achieve that target, and also a provisional program of meetings.

The 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas, two of the five classics of the British flat-racing schedule, are due to take place on consecutive days at Newmarket in early June.

Racing will only go ahead in Britain, though, subject to an assessment by public health officials.