International runners allowed in British Group 1 races before Royal Ascot

International runners and entries for Group 1 races in Britain will be allowed following BHA discussions with the Flat Pattern Committee.

There is, however, a ban on foreign horses in place for other UK black type races until at least 15 June. That is the day before Royal Ascot starts.

This means Irish horses can contest the first two Classics in the British Isles. Guineas Weekend at Newmarket has become a three-day meeting this year with the Group 1 Coronation Cup headlining the Friday card.

That 1m 4f test for older horses, usually run at Epsom Downs, is also open to international runners. The English 2000 Guineas and 1000 Guineas are on 6 and 7 June respectively.

The announcement about accepting foreign horses comes after the BHA revealed new plans for the Flat season. Assuming a 1 June start date, the Pattern of black type races remains provisional.

“Should racing resume on this date, it is agreed that protecting ourselves against unnecessary risks in the opening few weeks is a responsible and proportionate response,” a BHA statement read.

“Foreign-trained runners will only be permitted to run in the three Group 1 races taking place in Britain during the first fortnight. [This is] in order to help facilitate a safe and smooth resumption.”

Analysis: International runners vital to integrity of Pattern

Jamie Clark, Horsebetting.com Editor

A Guineas Weekend without horses from overseas doesn’t bear thinking about. Six of the eight colts that won the 2000 Guineas since Frankel in 2011 were Irish raiders.

Only three 1000 Guineas heroines in the last decade represented British stables, meanwhile. French and Irish three-year-olds racing in the UK in the Classics is commonplace.

This is why we have a European Pattern. Foreign horses are also an integral part of Royal Ascot, so it’s no accident the ban ends just before it.

International runners from as far away as the USA and Australia come to Britain’s premier Flat festival. Ascot will hope all goes to plan, although expect a different race order than normal.

Returning to the Guineas, the prospect of doubling up depends on authorities in France and Ireland reciprocating. The French Guineas take place on 1 June, so it looks a case of either or really.

Gaps of five and six days respectively between Longchamp and Newmarket for these Classics make it infeasible. We don’t yet know when the Irish Guineas at The Curragh will be, but Irish horse racing resumes on 8 June.

Whether Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) factors Royal Ascot into their thinking about the Irish Classics remains to be seen. Six Emerald Isle raiders, all trained by the mighty Aidan O’Brien, won races there in 2019.

Big Irish stables – Ballydoyle, Jim Bolger and Jessica Harrington – target the meeting with their horses. American trainer Wesley Ward does likewise with international runners.

It is for the good of the Pattern that foreign horses run in Group 1 and black types races in general.

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