Horse racing: Newcastle set to host first meeting after return

Newcastle racecourse
Race planners hope to stage 18 meetings in the first eight days after the sport returns

Newcastle racecourse will host the first fixture under plans for British horse racing's return behind closed doors next month.

If a return to action is approved by the government, the first meeting would be held on 1 June.

Racing in Britain has been suspended since 17 March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The British Horseracing Authority is proposing a total of 18 meetings in the first eight days after it resumes.

Details of safety and social distancing protocols are being finalised.

An eight-race opening fixture is planned for Newcastle's all-weather track.

Flat racing's first two Classics, the 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas, would be held at Newmarket on 6 and 7 June.

Proposed week one meetings

1 June Newcastle

2 Kempton, Newcastle

3 Kempton, Great Yarmouth

4 Newcastle, Newmarket

5 Lingfield, Newmarket

6 Lingfield, Newcastle, Newmarket

7 Haydock, Lingfield, Newmarket

8 Chelmsford, Haydock, Lingfield

Analysis

Frank Keogh, BBC Sport

This is the latest and most thorough plan for racing's first days after resumption.

Newmarket's Friday card will be headlined by the Coronation Cup, which has been moved from Epsom, plus the Brigadier Gerard Stakes, Paradise Stakes and Abernant Stakes. Lingfield hosts its Derby and Oaks trials that day.

It comes as the minimum prize money for top-level Group One races has been temporarily cut by half as racing reacts to the financial impact of the lockdown.

However, the Horserace Betting Levy Board has increased its contribution by 23% to £16.4m, mainly to help grassroots and middle-tier racing, which leaves the average minimum prize money levels at about 80% of what was previously offered.