Picture: GALLO IMAGES/PETER HEEGER
Picture: GALLO IMAGES/PETER HEEGER

France and Germany could be the first countries to restart racing in Europe — albeit behind closed doors — if representations to their respective governments are successful.

In a statement, France Galop said: “Before racing was suspended, the industry had shown its ability to organise meetings behind closed doors while maintaining an excellent level of risk prevention.”

France Galop feel they have a strong case for a resumption and point to Australia, Sweden, Japan, Hong Kong and states in the US, which are staging meetings behind closed doors.

Germany has scheduled a plan to the government to resume on May 1 and a decision is expected this week. Racing would take place behind closed doors, with prize money halved.

SA has also pencilled in the beginning of May as a resumption date and the sport can make the same argument as France. Meetings behind closed doors went smoothly before lockdown.

However, one would imagine a decision on resumption here would depend largely on the number of cases of Covid-19 being reported this week.

The fact there is racing in five countries is good news for Phumelela Gaming & Leisure as it gives its clients a chance to bet on the action from home while the lockdown is in place. The UK’s Racing Post has compiled a list of which countries are — and which are not — allowing racing.

AUSTRALIA: Racing is behind closed doors, with big tracks such as Randwick and Caulfield operating. The sport is closely following government guidelines.

HONG KONG: Races are taking place behind closed doors. There is a big meeting scheduled for April 26, with several big races including the grade 1 QEII Stakes.

IRELAND: Officials say they can restart given a week’s notice. Racing was suspended on March 24 and the lockdown has now been extended to May 5.

JAPAN: The first country to race behind closed doors. Racing is still going ahead but a nationwide emergency was declared on April 16 so this could change. Ruling SA champion jockey Lyle Hewitson has been doing well since moving from Hong Kong.

MAURITIUS: There has been no racing since December 7 and a resumption is unlikely for another month. The Turf Club management team has agreed to forfeit 35% of salaries in April.

SINGAPORE: Racing was suspended on April 4 and will remain that way until May 4. SA jockey Ryan Munger is riding there.

SWEDEN: Racing is behind closed doors, but Sweden is the only country not to introduce lockdown measures. It has been stated they are putting trust in the public to do the right thing.

UAE: The season was due to end on April 10 but their big loss has been the cancellation of the $12m Dubai World Cup.

UK: Racing was suspended on March 18, two days after the Cheltenham festival. There is no scheduled return date though British Horseracing Authority CEO Nick Rust says there are a “range of options”, including meetings being held at Newcastle (in the north) and Lingfield (in the south).

US: Racing is being run on a state-by-state basis. The government has not forced any racetracks to close and those racing behind closed doors include Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay.

ZIMBABWE: Plans were afoot to restart this Friday but on April 19 the government announced an extension of the lockdown until early May.