Irish Racing given the green light to resume on June 8

The Irish Government had initially pencilled in racing to resume in the country on June 29 restart.
The Irish Government had initially pencilled in racing to resume in the country on June 29 restart.

Irish racing was given a much-needed boost this afternoon, with the announcement that the sport had been cleared by the Government to resume on June 8 - three weeks earlier than the original date proposed. 

It was initially feared that the sport would have to wait until June 29 to return alongside the rest of sport in the country - as part of the Irish Government's plans to slowly ease out of lockdown. 

However, having held discussions with the Government, Horse Racing Ireland has announced that the restart has been brought forward by three weeks - with June 8 the revised date. 

The meetings will be held under strict protocols, firmer than those used at the 10 meetings that took place in the country before the lockdown was enforced, with the last of those being at Clonmel on March 24.

Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “We are grateful to be one of the sectors permitted to go back to work and acknowledge the responsibility on everybody in racing to ensure the events are run in a safe way.

“We know from our own experience in March when we safely ran 10 meetings behind closed doors – and from what is happening in other countries like France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and America – that racing can be staged safely within the requirements of social distancing. 

“With significant input from the IHRB’s chief medical officer Dr Jennifer Pugh, we have strengthened the HRI Covid-19 protocols and so, while race fixtures will return in Ireland on June 8, they will be very different from what people will have experienced before.

“We will publish our full protocols tomorrow and will require any key personnel necessary to run a race fixture to read the document in full. There must be full compliance with these protocols and to assist the industry in becoming familiar with the changed workplace, a series of webinars on the Covid 19 Protocols will be announced next week.

“On Sunday we will release a revised fixture list up to the end of June, including confirmation on when the Classics, traditionally scheduled for this time of year, will be run.

“The decision to allow racing to resume behind closed doors will be welcomed within the industry. For Flat racing in-particular, but also for a significant portion of the National Hunt population, there is a seasonal and cyclical nature to the industry and these are key months in the trade and export of horses with proven form on the race track, as well as a vital period in the sales season.

“These will not be race meetings as you might traditionally imagine them, rather stripped back events which will determine the best horses in various categories, a vital factor for the breeding industry. Attendance will be kept to an absolute minimum and Covid-19 protocols will be strictly enforced.”

New protocols to be enforced upon the return of racing in Ireland

1   Only key personnel will be permitted to attend race fixtures

2   All attendees will be subject to health screening in advance and thermal temperature screening on arrival – anyone presenting with elevated temperatures will be denied access and instructed to consult with their GP

3   Mandatory wearing of face coverings for many attendees including jockeys, stalls handlers, medical professionals, security staff, those working inside etc

4   Social distancing will be strictly enforced by a dedicated Covid-19 protocol officer at each fixture 

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