Horse racing must seize valuable opportunity to win new fans after restart

Snooker apart, horse racing is the first sport in the UK that has restarted albeit in unusual circumstances.

A surge in betting turnover came with the resumption of equine competition on the all-weather at Gosforth Park just outside Newcastle on 1 June.

For those of you anticipating future quiz questions, the first winner after lockdown was Zodiakos. Like those with the corresponding star sign Gemini on this date, horse racing could go one of two ways.

There are two weeks or so before the Premier League returns to our screens on 17 June. Like horse racing, the football which is part of our national consciousness is behind closed doors until further notice.

However, this re-emergence of sport is a golden opportunity that should be seized with both hands. Yes, jockeys, trainers and stable staff must follow protocols and keep their social distance, but horse racing can benefit from the attention.

The BHA aren’t messing about either. Just three days in to the resumption of sport, Kempton Park has black type races on the all-weather.

If you prefer seeing horses on a natural surface, then 5 June has the first Group contests of the truncated Flat turf campaign.

Guineas Weekend, including a low-key opening day on 4 June, is for this year transformed into a four-day meeting. There is a Group 1 prize on offer on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Newmarket.

Classics taking place barely a week into the campaign. This is the stuff of dreams after 76 days without the thunder of hooves on the track.

Horse racing a spectator sport for armchair fans

Newcastle’s first day of post-lockdown horse racing felt strange. Jockeys riding in masks in front of an empty grandstand with no roaring crowd cheering on their fancies.

The beauty is you can do all the shouting from the comfort of your own home. Terrestrial TV broadcasts the three key days from Guineas Weekend through ITV Racing.

Royal Ascot follows pretty hot on the heels of the Rowley Mile Classics too. An expanded royal meeting with more races than ever before between 16 and 20 June.

Well, it’ll keep our tipsters busy here if nothing else. Unless you’ve been glued to the Bundesliga, then horse racing is the only other route into European sport.

Classics have already been staged in France and Germany – behind closed doors of course. Uncertainty still surrounds the use of racecourses in and around Paris this summer, so the big jumps events have been delayed until autumn.

South African horse racing is also back underway, but there have been casualties in the international calendar. Meydan lost its valuable Dubai World Cup night card

In America, some minor tracks staged low key events. New York sees horse racing return to The Big Apple this week ahead of the Belmont Stakes on 20 June.

There may be no Euros or Wimbledon this summer, but the big two betting sports remain in some form. There are 60 black type races in the UK this June alone.

If it can continue without a hitch, then horse racing provides a slice of relative normality in these times.

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