By Jon Lees
GB: Entries for the 2020 Investec Derby have been scrapped and fees are to be refunded following the announcement that the Classic would not be staged on its scheduled June date.
Although the names of another dozen three-year-olds were nominated at Tuesday’s second entry stage at a cost of £9,000 each, they were not added to the race, which will now reopen five days before a rearranged date.
The decision, which mirrors action taken for the Qipco 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas and Investec Oaks, will also have consequences on the prize-money for Britain’s richest horse race which will not offer the published total of £1.5 million when it finally takes place.
The Jockey Club announced on Tuesday that the first four Classics, due to be staged at JCR tracks, would have to take place at later dates as a result of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak which has led to the suspension of the Flat season until the end of April.
The news broke shortly after the 12 noon deadline for second entries for the June 6 Derby which it was hoped would draw in last year’s champion two-year-old Pinatubo.
Epsom clerk of the course Andrew Cooper said: “It was the shortest-lived entry stage. The decision to go ahead with the second entry stage was taken a fortnight ago but events and circumstances came together on Tuesday.
“There is no other way to do this,” he added. “An entry for any race is a contract between the person making the entry and the racecourse and if the date changes, or any other factor, it is common practice that entries are rescinded and fees refunded. Contractually it is no longer the race that anyone at yearling entry, or yesterday, were signing up to.”
The Derby was originally advertised with a purse of £1.5m and had attracted 139 entries since it opened in December 2018 ahead of the second stage, but Cooper confirmed a reduction in the fund for a rescheduled Classic was inevitable.
“It is no secret that the entry income makes up 40-45 per cent of that total,” said Cooper. “When racing resumes there will be a reduction in total prize-money across the board because of the financial position racecourses find themselves in. I think everyone accepts that.
“The Derby on a Saturday will close on a Monday. There will be a complete reassessment of prize-money values across the board and the Investec Derby will come into that category. We are not in a position to speculate what that might be.”
Cooper would not divulge the names of the second entries. “There were 12 horses, which would have been above average,” he revealed. “It was a £9,000 stage but no one will have seen that money go out of their account.”