The government has given frustrated racegoers a faint ray of hope that they could be back “on course” to watch live racing by the onset of Christmas.

Under a pilot trial scheme, a crowd of 5000 will be allowed to attend the final day of the Goodwood Festival on August 1, and provided the occasion passes the health and safety protocols there will be the possibility of the current restrictions being at least partially relaxed with racegoers able to attend meetings in “near normal”circumstances.

Clearly much has to be clarified before a return but the wheels are beginning to turn and it may not be too long before local jumps meetings at venues like Kelso, Hexham and – dare one suggest it – even Carlisle will be back operating on a limited scale.

Meanwhile the management at Hexham are understandably dissatisfied with the delay in the verification of the revised fixture list for the month starting on September 1.

Early abandonments followed by the lockdown have already cost Hexham six meetings. their application for an additional fixture in August fell upon deaf ears and if the next scheduled fixture on September 2 is cancelled it would be both financial disaster for the course and a further setback for northern jumps trainers starved of the opportunities to race their horses on local courses.

The necessity to travel south to chase winners has seen Cumbrian trained jumpers in action at Stratford, Bangor, Southwell and Market Rasen since the sport resumed at the start of the month.

Many have run with credit but until Nicky Richards scored with Millie Of Mayo at Market Rasen last Monday that outright winner had proved elusive.

Nicky sent three horses to the Lincolnshire course and unplaced in three outings last season, Millie Of Mayo took advantage of a lenient mark on her handicap debut and also suited by the step up in distance powered home by a wide margin.

Perth hosted their first meeting of the season on Tuesday and a fleet of horseboxes made the trip north to the Tayside venue from their Cumbrian stables.

They carried runners from the yards of Nicky Richards, Martin Todhunter, Dianne Sayer, Barry Murtagh and interestingly a quartet from Maurice Barnes base near Farlam, the first time the stable had been represented since the onset of the lockdown.

Familiar names like Quick Brew and Apache Pilot made the journey together with the course winner Lady Samback and of particular interest the stable’s newcomer from Ireland Dolly Dancer making her UK debut in the £12,000 Scottish Tourist Alliance Hurdle.

Dale Irving was in the saddle on all four of the Barnes raiders.

Big races continue apace in this interrupted summer flat race programme and they come no more important than the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot tomorrow.

Perhaps a shade sadly this year’s race has simply developed into an head to head clash between Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden whose horses make up the entire field. On the other hand there is the excitement of Enable bidding for her record third King George with Frankie Dettori fighting a tactical battle with what threatens to be no less than six rivals from the Ballydoyle camp.

The formbook clearly points to a win for Enable. She has already netted five out of five over O’Brien’s major hope Magical anis two from two over Japan.The Gosden heroine is also reported to be all the better for her seasonal reappearance in the Coral Eclipse at Sandown. It could be six to one against her numerically but class can prevail and on that score Enable and Dettori are an invincible pairing.

The supporting feature at Ascot is the Listed race in memory of Pat Eddery and with the Mark Johnston stable in tremendous fettle, I look no further than his recent winner Golden Flame.

The best bet at York is Lord Glitters and remember back over the jumps on Sunday it is Cartmel and course specialists Chocolat Noir and Tonto’s Spirit have both enjoyed encouraging “prep” races.