There still remains a small amount of racing taking place at a number of tracks, with it of course being hosted behind closed doors. Something that Royal Ascot are pushing to do, as the Royal meeting draws ever nearer and one meeting that many US horses travel to take part in. This includes a stellar team from Wesley Ward, who has long had much success over in the UK with his travelling horses. His horses usually head the markets, and this year should be no different as the array of 2 year old novices he has at his disposal ensures that his rival trainers cast an envious eye at his chances of success. The yard are often firm backers of their own group, so punters should expect to see the horses that they fancy for success to be backed into short prices come the off. A lot of punters will perhaps seek greater value elsewhere, straight superfactas, quinellas and straight exactas some of the different types of horse racing bets that might add value, given the larger prices. That said, he’s no stranger to a long-priced winner, with a 16/1 shot landing for backers last year in.
These cancellations and postponements of meetings around the world is down to the coronavirus pandemic, which has meant the likes of the NHL, NBA and MLB have all been stopped for the foreseeable future. It is similar in other areas of the world, with the Premier league also being halted in the UK. The European championships and Olympic games were also meant to be taking place over the upcoming summer, but have now been moved to the same period of 2021, which gives a further indication of the severity of the situation at present.
This means that we are only likely to see sport return within the latter period of the year, which sets up for the Breeders’ Cup to again be the highlight of the racing season. This will be showcased over Friday 6th and Saturday 7th of November at Keeneland racecourse in Kentucky. It will be just the second time that the event has taken place at the track, which is one that has long been at the heart of the thoroughbred industry in America. The previous time the event was held at Keeneland was in 2015, which turned out to be a very memorable occasion.
The key reason behind this was the fact that the track broke the record on both days for the number of attendees in the history of the Breeders Cup. Friday saw an attendance of 44,947, with Saturday then topping this at 50,155. It will be interesting to see whether these numbers are matched this year, in what will be a celebration, as the world will have hopefully passed the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. A number of other eye-catching numbers from the 2015 meet include 4.6 million viewers tuning into the NBC telecast of the Breeders’ Cup. There was also over $150 million wagered at the meeting with the economic impact surpassing $65 million in Fayette County, which is why it is such an important event each year.
2015 also saw 25 international contenders competing across the two days, and it will be interesting whether these numbers are matched in 2020, considering the unprecedented year everyone is experiencing and whether connections will be looking to travel with their horses.
The US are also set to be at the forefront of the return of sport, with UFC 249 set to go ahead on May 9th in Jacksonville. This will see the event taking place in Florida, without fans in attendance, similar to what many race meetings continue to do across the United states. This will also be the first of three events to be taking place in that period of the month, with Ferguson v Gaethje heading up the card. Could this lead to other sports following suit and we see a return of action soon enough, as many organisations continue to be badly affected by the pandemic, with pay-cuts taking place world-wide.
So how are other countries looking with their return of sport? German have been one of the best in regards dealing with the pandemic and appeared to be set to allow the main football league, the Bundesliga to return on May 9th. However, they have now recently seen a fresh spike of cases, which means they are now likely to push back the proposed return date. This is also likely to mean a further wait in other countries, who will not want to make the same mistake and have to again add further lockdown restrictions onto the public. Football continues to be cancelled across Europe with the French top flight now cancelling their seasons. The French Grand Prix has also been cancelled with the Formula 1 now targeting a July return, which is a similar date to many other major sports.