By Jon Lees
Italy: Horse racing in Italy has received government approval that it can emerge from its coronavirus-enforced suspension with meetings behind closed doors from Monday.
The announcement was made on Thursday after leading figures from the sport took their frustration to the streets to protest about the lengthy shutdown.
Champion jockey Dario Vargu was among the groups who demonstrated outside municipal buildings in cities including Milan, Naples, Pisa, Siena and Sassari, Sardinia.
Another was planned in the capital Rome on Friday before the news broke that the Ministry of Health agreed to lift the suspension from May 25 in agreement with the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies.
The first day of resumption will feature two trotting meetings at Taranto and Albenga. No thoroughbred fixtures have yet been scheduled in Rome and Milan but Merano will host its first fixture on May 31.
Pisa racecourse is among the tracks which lost a key part of its fixture list when the sport was shut down.
Track spokesman Enrico Querci said: “We lost the last month of racing because the lockdown started on March 10. We last raced on Sunday March 8 so lost seven racedays including the most important one of our year, on April 4 which features the Premio Pisa.
“We have local trainers with 300 to 400 racehorses and the owners, trainers and jockeys are frustrated without racing. They couldn’t understand why racing was still closed down when neighbouring countries, which closed after Italy, have come back into action before Italy.
“Our season starts in November and runs through to the first Sunday in April. We don’t know if any our racedays will be restored in the next weeks or months because the news was only announced yesterday, but I hope we do, maybe in June.”