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French racing back with bang but British must wait

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Jockey Mickael Barzalona, aboard Mazagran, wears his protective face mask along with fellow riders before the fourth race at Longchamp yesterday. Photo: Gonzalo Fuentes

Jockey Mickael Barzalona, aboard Mazagran, wears his protective face mask along with fellow riders before the fourth race at Longchamp yesterday. Photo: Gonzalo Fuentes

Jockey Mickael Barzalona, aboard Mazagran, wears his protective face mask along with fellow riders before the fourth race at Longchamp yesterday. Photo: Gonzalo Fuentes

French action was back with a bang at Longchamp yesterday but hopes to restart British racing will have to wait until at least June 1.

The British government's three-stage plan to ease lockdown measures state will see no professional sport, even behind closed doors, in England until at least the start of next month.

Step two of the roadmap includes "permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact" from June 1 and this is when racing is expected to resume.

That comes with the caveat that sufficient progress must be made in "successfully controlling the spread of the coronavirus" and restrictions could be delayed if the situation has not improved by then.

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The situation in Ireland is still unclear with Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) continuing to "take its lead from the medical advice which the Government receives".

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's five-phase plan to ease lockdown restrictions will see racing return behind closed doors on June 29 but is believed that HRI are lobbying with Government officials to recommence earlier if possible.

There were plenty of shocks on the track in France where 2019 French Derby winner Sottsass (2/5 favourite) was turned over in the Group Two Prix d'Harcourt with Jean-Claude Rouget's colt disappointing in fourth.

Carlos Laffon-Parias' Shaman (32/5) benefited from a fine front-running by Maxime Guyon to score, while there was also a major surprise in the Group Three Prix de Fontainebleau with Andre Fabre's Victor Ludorum (2/5 favourite) only mustering third behind Henri-Alex Pantall's surprise winner The Summit (241/10).

Irish Independent