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French racing could resume within weeks under strict health conditions and restricted to local participants for the time being.

France Galop has marked down May 11 as the date racing could resume behind closed doors.

The sport has been suspended since March 17 because of the coronavirus pandemic, with a number of meetings held without spectators leading up to that date.

France Galop has issued a statement outlining procedures for a return.

“Horseracing, which has been suspended since March 17, could resume from May 11 under strictly controlled health conditions,” France Galop said.

“Tens of thousands of French households depend on the racing industry. From studs to yards, it is an important workforce that cares and looks after the well-being of horses.

“During the suspension of horseracing most of them have been able to continue with their work, as horses and especially competition horses, cannot remain inactive.

“The yards and studs have hence continued their activities without being able to count on revenues generated by competition.”

Numbers of people on course during meetings will be restricted, with France Galop and LeTrot, the governing body of trotting racing, setting out stringent measures.

“These race meetings will be run behind closed doors for as long as necessary and in the strictest conditions, as it was already done in the final days leading to the suspension of horseracing in France,” France Galop said.

“Race meetings behind closed doors will be subject to very strict specifications. For example, only the trainer, the jockey or driver and one lad can accompany and look after a horse declared to run in a race.

“Personnel in charge of the organisation and regulation of horseracing will also be limited to the strict minimum.

“In order to mitigate the health risk, horses trained abroad and jockeys holding a foreign licence (apart from jockeys quarantined in France) will not be allowed to ride in races in France until the end of May at least.”

France Galop conceded the program could be drastically altered and prize money would be impacted.

“France Galop and LeTrot will publish their fixture lists in the following days,” the body said.

“Prize money policy from the moment racing resumes depends on the outcome of discussions that are currently being held with the responsible ministers.

“In fact, prize money and premiums are financed through betting and if racing resumes on May 11, PMU betting shops will only be partially operational, depriving betting operators and the entire racing industry from essential income.”

The authority also underlined the return of racing will be dependent on government approval, with French President Emmanuel Macron having extended the country’s lockdown until May 11 last week.

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