The 2020 series had been scheduled to begin with the Irish leg at Cork Racecourse’s popular Student Raceday in late March, however with the Covid-19 pandemic bringing Irish racing to a close two days earlier, it was called off and the following three rounds have gone the same way.
The French double leg in May at high profile fixtures in Auteuil and Le Lion D’Angers did not take place, and the Belgian leg at Waregem in August is the latest race in the series to be cancelled.
That latest cancellation leaves just three remaining legs, with the 2020 series potentially getting underway belatedly in Italy, one of the worst hit European countries by the pandemic, at Merano in September, before moving to Pardubice in the Czech Republic in October and returning back to France in November for the concluding leg at Compiégne.
Irish competitors have enjoyed a good record in the series, with Dean Sinnott winning the inaugural championship, and since then point-to-point regulars Ray Barron and Stephen Connor have both represented their country.
Neil Bashford, the son of well-known Bloodstock Agent Brendan Bashford who recorded his first success in the pointing fields aboard Niall Madden’s Pass The Ball at Bellurgan Park in 2017, is Ireland’s representative this year.
The Kildare native has since struck up a successful association with Joseph O’Brien, and guided the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Forged In Fire to win a Bumper for him at the high profile Leopardstown Christmas meeting last year, getting the better of eventual Champion Bumper victor Ferny Hollow in the process.
The 23-year-old is due to be joined in the 2020 series by Sylvain Maussion for France, Alex Chadwick for England and Elliot Öhgren for Sweden.