Irish Guineas take place before Royal Ascot in new HRI plan

The Irish Guineas are on 12 and 13 June – between the English equivalents and Royal Ascot – in a new HRI plan announced on Sunday.

Horse racing in Ireland resumes on 8 June at Naas which is a week later than in the UK. The new programme for the Emerald Isle sees their first Classics at The Curragh hot off the heels of Guineas Weekend at Newmarket.

That are just six days between the English and Irish 2000 Guineas, and likewise for the two 1000 Guineas races. Factoring in the French Classics at Longchamp on 1 June, there are six Guineas races in the space of a fortnight.

The HRI plan also revealed that jumps racing returns on 22 June at Limerick. As for the Irish Derby, it takes place on 27 June before the Epsom equivalent.

That was the originally planned date for Ireland’s premier Classic. Given the Irish government strict 14-day quarantine protocols, however, it is more difficult for three-year-olds to double up in these races.

Again, the turnaround between the Irish and English Derby races is short at just a week. There may be scope to do so with the Oaks, however, as the Irish race is 14 days after the Epsom event on 18 July.

Full details of the HRI plan will be released next week. English horses may contest the Irish Guineas if they wish, provided jockeys, stable staff and other connections go into quarantine.

Group 1 and Group 2 races in Ireland during June remain open to overseas runners. Prize money for all Irish black type races goes down too.

Analysis: HRI plan looking out for Ireland first

Jamie Clark, Editor

It is not ideal that the Irish Guineas take place six days after their English equivalents, but HRI has to look out for its own.

Any chance of doing the double has virtually gone out the window now. The 14-day quarantine for connections imposed on the HRI plan by the Irish government has seen to that.

This will be a particular blow for Ballydoyle maestro Aidan O’Brien. He has trained colts Churchill (2017), Gleneagles (2015), Henrythenavigator (2008) and Rock Of Gibraltar (2002) all to 2000 Guineas doubles.

It’s a similar story with fillies Hermosa (2019) and Winter (2017) in the two 1000 Guineas races. For O’Brien and every other Flat trainer, it’s a case of either or when it comes to all the Classics really.

The HRI plan is all about making up for lost time. There is no concession to Royal Ascot which starts just three days after Irish Guineas Weekend.

Normally speaking, a three-year-old colt or filly could run in both Classics and then go the royal meeting. That simply doesn’t look possible this year, so one big meeting or another will suffer.

Some racing, even with potentially devalued English and Irish Guineas, is better than none. National Hunt resuming in June, meanwhile, boosts hopes of dual code festivals at Galway and Listowel going ahead later this summer.

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