The chief of the French horse racing authority has hit out at the country’s government after it withdrew approval to hold behind-closed-door meetings in some regions.

acing resumed across France last Monday following the coronavirus shutdown, but officials have performed a U-turn, with new protocols set to be published later this week banning meetings in areas still heavily affected by the outbreak.

The capital city of Paris, as well as much of the east of the country, is included, meaning leading courses such as Longchamp and Auteuil will be unable to stage cards.

France Galop president Edouard de Rothschild called the decision “inexplicable and irrational” and praised those across the industry for their “exemplary behavior” since the sport’s return.

Under the new regulations, racecourses will only be permitted to open in areas code marked as “green” in the government’s wider road map to easing lock down measures, with those in “red” zones ordered to close.

France Galop said it would pre-empt the formal implementation of the restrictions, shutting courses in the designated areas from Thursday, and look to relocate fixtures where possible.

Longchamp is due to host the first Classics of the season, the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches and Poule d’Essai des Poulains – the French equivalents of the 1000 and 2000 Guineas – on June 1, but those races are now likely to be moved, possibly to Deauville in Normandy.