Coronavirus: a global guide to where they’re racing and where they’re not

Racing at Chantilly: set to host French Classics in July. Photo: France Galop/Scoopdyga

By Nicholas Godfrey

Horse racing worldwide is starting to get back on its feet after the initial stages of the coronavirus crisis. 

Although certain major jurisdictions – notably Australia, Japan and Hong Kong – have been able to soldier on behind closed doors, every continent has been marked by a slew of shutdowns.

Never a day passes without a new development on the racing front. In just 24 hours in Europe over Thursday and Friday, for example, a revised French programme was published ahead of their May 11 resumption, while the Racing Post reported that Epsom may stage the postponed Derby and Oaks on the same day at the start of July in Britain.

Outside Europe during the same period, the New Zealand government gave the okay for training to resume on Tuesday ahead of a planned racing resumption on July 3, while Japan announced that the sport would continue to take place behind closed doors until at least the beginning of June.

Horse Racing Investec Derby
Derby day at Epsom: Oaks may be held on same day in 2020. Photo: Jockey Club Racecourses

As a result, the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), set to feature a rematch between top three-year-olds Contrail and Salios, will be run without public admittance for the first time since World War II.

Further developments will come thick and fast but here, then, is the current state of play across the horse racing planet.

Bear in mind that all extant racing in major jurisdictions is behind closed downs under strict protocols as a precaution against the further spread of COVID-19; any resumptions also set to follow similar protocols. 

Nation-by-nation guide

Argentina: Suspended No date for return

Australia: CONTINUES (except Tasmania; Brisbane Winter Carnival cancelled)

Brazil: CONTINUES at Cidade Jardim in Sao Paulo; RESUMED at Cristal on Friday April 24; (Gavea resumes on May 3)

Canada: Suspended No date for Woodbine resumption (Queen’s Plate postponed)

Chile: RESUMPTION expected mid-May

France: RESUMPTION ON MAY 11 at ParisLongchamp (Poules d’Essai at Paris Longchamp on Jun 1; Prix du Jockey Club and Prix de Diane at Chantilly on July 7)

Germany: RESUMPTION ON MAY 4 at Dortmund (initial six-week restricted programme in place, including German 1,000 Guineas at Dusseldorf on June 7)

Great Britain: Suspended indefinitely amid national lockdown BHA planning for May return (maximum 12-runner races; Dante and Chester May meetings cancelled; Classics postponed; Royal Ascot scheduled in traditional June slot)


Ireland: Suspended indefinitely amid national lockdown Plans in place for resumption in event of government’s easing restrictions on May 5

Italy: Suspended No date for return

Japan: CONTINUES Behind closed doors until at least end of May

Korea: Suspended until at least May 3 Racetrack trials continue during shutdown


New Zealand: RESUMPTION ON JULY 3 at Riccarton Park (Training nationwide set to resume on Tuesday April 28)


Panama: Suspended No date for return

Peru: Suspended No date for return

Puerto Rico: CONTINUES

Singapore: Suspended until at least June 1

South Africa: RESUMPTION ON MAY 1 (Champions Day now May 30; Durban July pushed back until July 25)

Sweden: CONTINUES (Grand National meeting cancelled)

Uruguay: RESUMPTION mooted for May 10 or May 15

USA: CONTINUES at Fonner Park, Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park, Tampa Bay Downs, Will Rogers Downs plus QH cards at Los Alamitos and Remington Park; RESUMPTION hopes in May for Santa Anita; Suspended elsewhere (Kentucky Derby postponed until Sept 5; Preakness Stakes postponed)

• The 2019-20 season is over in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE

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USA: Irad Ortiz back with a bang with Florida four-timer after coronavirus absence

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Norway: all dressed up and nowhere to go: coronavirus stalls overseas mission for ‘Frankel of the Fjords’

Japan: landmark 100th winner in Japan for pioneering female jockey Nanako Fujita

French racing set for May 11 restart on strict behind-closed-doors basis

New Zealand racing gets go-ahead for July 3 restart after new government advice