Irish Racing To Continue Behind Closed Doors


In a surprise announcement, horse racing in Ireland is set to continue behind closed doors writes Joe Kavanagh.

Following a meeting of the board of Horse Racing Ireland the decision was taken to continue racing devoid of other than essential persons contrary to the decision in Britain to cancel all meetings until the end of April.

This decision is motivated by the need to maintain employment and incomes for people working in the industry, and on the basis of being able to achieve and maintain all HSE advice and instructions.  

To date five meetings have been held behind closed doors – the last at Down Royal on Tuesday. Strict protocols have been in place on all meetings staged with very limited excess to personnel.

Horse racing in Downpatrick on March 22nd will be behind closed doors.

There will be no evening meetings and no double meetings – this will reduce the draw on medical resources, a principal concern for larger racing jurisdictions with multiple meetings every day. A maximum of one meeting per day to reduce impact on resources.   A new addition to the already stricken protocols will be no owners permitted to attend race meetings and horses from overseas cannot be entered.

Nicky Hartery, Chairman of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “These are unprecedented and sombre times and we are seeking the best ways to support the racing community and industry throughout what lies ahead. Health and welfare of employees and industry participants is the prime consideration and within that context, we have introduced protocols which can allow racing to continue and thousands of families who rely on the sector to maintain a livelihood.

“We have consulted with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine throughout this process and we will continue to strictly adhere to the Government and Health and Safety Executive advice. We have made it clear at all times that our medical facilities and personnel will be available for the Government to use if necessary.”

down news, down news, online news, County Down news, internet newspaper, news in Down, newspaper, south down news, internet newsBrian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland said: “This is clearly a rapidly changing situation and Horse Racing Ireland will continue to liaise with the relevant Government Departments and with our health advisors. 

Song of Namibia with Jack Kennedy aboard rode to victory in the Down Time Festival Rated Novice Hurdle at Downpatrick races last June in Downpatrick to a large crowd of spectators.

“The executive sub-committee of Horse Racing Ireland and the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board is meeting daily to assess the situation, and the Board of Horse Racing Ireland will continue to convene as required.   

“Racecourses by their nature offer opportunities for social distancing that few other workplaces can. Nothing in Irish life is as it was a week ago, and in the same way, these are not race fixtures as we previously knew them, they are big open-air sites with very few people present and nobody on site if they are not involved: once a jockey or trainer has finished their business for the afternoon, they are required to leave.

“Furthermore, we have carried out risk assessments according to each individual racecourse facility, and some fixtures may be subject to greater restrictions and limitations to ensure social distancing is easily achievable and maintained.”

A designated isolation room must be provided at each racecourse (for individual use in the event any person presents with virus symptoms) is a new additional protocol and access to the racecourses will be strictly restricted to essential service providers and industry participants.”

Downpatrick’s highlight of the racing year – the Randox Ulster Grand National is scheduled for next Sunday 22nd March.   

Friday 20            Dundalk (afternoon)
Saturday 21       Thurles
Sunday 22          Downpatrick
Monday 23        Naas (from Sunday March 22)
Tuesday 24        Clonmel
Wednesday 25  Dundalk (afternoon) (from Friday March 27)
Thursday 26        Cork
Friday 27            Navan (from Saturday March 28)
Saturday 28       Curragh (from Sunday March 29)
Sunday 29        Limerick


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