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Will racing return in time for Royal Ascot?

The age-old question currently gnawing at every racing fan – when will the sport we love return?

A May 1 resumption that was originally mooted by the BHA now looks impossible.

Racing could return as soon as late May

Betfair’s Exchange suggests a comeback date is most likely to come in around six weeks, with ‘yes’ marginally shading favouritism at 1.97 for a resumption on or before June 1.

Boris Johnson’s cabinet has indicated there will be at least another three weeks of lockdown, so any chance of a return before May 1 is all but gone.

And the racing that does resume is likely to be staggered, with reports of two hubs – one in Newmarket and one in Newcastle – set to lead the way.

Ascot’s head honchos will be hoping to see as much action as possible in the lead-up to late June as they attempt to stage the Royal meeting behind closed doors.

In what guise that will be, how they do it and what races will be run is up for debate, but the big question mark is whether restrictions will be lifted enough for them to give the big meeting the go ahead.

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Betfair’s Exchange has unveiled a ‘Will Royal Ascot go ahead market’, with ‘yes’ a relatively unfancied 2.92, opposed to ‘no’ at 1.48.

That won’t be music to the ears of racing fans, but the ‘yes’ price has already shortened markedly since it was first put up, and if social distances measures are relaxed by the end of April, or even by mid-May, Ascot’s chances will be boosted significantly.

The road back to a full resumption with many meetings each day could still be months away, but the sooner staggered meetings return, the better for the industry.

And the markets suggest we won’t have to wait too much longer for that.

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