Horse racing set to begin again behind closed doors

Only key personnel necessary to run fixture will be permitted to be on site when racing resumes next month

Horse racing set to begin again behind closed doors

Horse Racing Ireland has welcomed news of a return to action in June.

By Damian Mullan


By Damian Mullan


HORSE Racing Ireland has welcomed the confirmation from the government that race fixtures in Ireland can resume behind closed doors on June 8.

Only key personnel necessary to run the fixture will be permitted to be on site where they will be subject to strict Covid-19 protocols. All those in attendance will be subject to health surveying in advance and thermal temperature screening on entry.

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 ten 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.”

A number of new protocols will be enforced when fixtures restart behind closed doors including the mandatory wearing of face coverings by jockeys, stalls handlers, medical professionals and many others.

Social distancing will be also be strictly enforced by a dedicated Covid-1 protocol officer at each fixture.

Racing restarted behind closed doors in Germany on May 7 and in France on May 11, while in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong the industry continued operating behind closed doors. In Britain, the British Horseracing Authority plans to resume racing on June 1.

“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," added Brian Kavanagh.

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