NEWBURY is among the first victims of the suspension of all horse racing in the United Kingdom until the end of April caused by the COVID-19 crisis, writes Dave Wright.

The course had been preparing for their final National Hunt meeting of the season tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday.

It would, however, have taken place behind closed doors although the ITV cameras would have been there on Saturday.

Newbury's big early Flat meeting on April 17 and 18 has also been abandoned.

Another casualty is Lambourn's annual Charity Open Day which was due to take place on Good Friday, April 10.

The organisers are hoping to move it to the Bank Holiday at the end of August.

Mark Smyly, chairman of the organising committee said: "Very sadly, we have decided to postpone the Open Day on Good Friday. We want to be fair to the village as well as the yards and their hard-working staff.

"We also appreciate that there are people trying to make plans and they need to know."

Smyly added: “It’s a huge shame for all our charities – the Lambourn Valley Housing Trust, the Air Ambulance and our other local organisations."

However, he says support for the charities will continue via the silent auction on the Lambourn Open Day website (

Smyly commented: "Nearly 30 amazing items are available to bid on and will be open until Friday, April 10. Prizes include a morning on the gallops with Nicky Henderson, shares in racehorses plus much, much more."

Henderson's yard sent out four winners at last week's Cheltenham Festival.

The Lambourn trainer got the four-day meeting off to a cracking start by taking the opening race with 6/1 chance Shishkin landing the Skybet Supreme Novices' Hurdle in the hands of Nico de Boinville, holding off Abacadabras by a head in a thrilling finish.

And Henderson completed a quick Grade One double thanks to 2/1 favourite Epatante, ridden by Barry Geraghty, in the Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy.

On Wednesday, he took the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase with 4/1 shot Champ, who came from a long way back under strong urging by Geraghty to burst past Minella Indo and Allaho, the 5/2 favourite, just before the post.

The same trainer/jockey combination were back in the winner's enclosure with 5/1 favourite Dame De Compagnie after the 25-runner Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle.

Henderson came mighty close to landing the Magners Gold Cup on Friday with the strong finishing Santini (5/1) going down by a rapidly-closing neck to the Willie Mullins-trained Al Boum Photo, who was taking ther prize for the second year running.

"He fought like a lion, it was close, Nico gave him a beautiful ride," said Henderson.

"Somebody has to finish second, it's a hard place to be, but we can't complain and it's been a great week."