Think Tank established to outline return of racing


  • Important we do all we can individually and collectively to fight Covid-19 – HRI chairman Nicky Hartery

With racing in England and Ireland in lockdown a think tank was put in place in a bid to outline the return of the sport in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic ANDREW ATKINSON reports.

With racing in England halted Horse Racing Ireland followed suit, having stage one meeting a day behind closed doors, up until March 24.

Proposals on the resume of racing were aired, with trainer Gordon Elliott putting forward a suggestion, surrounding both the Festival meetings at Fairyhouse and Punchestown to be run in May.

Elliott, trainer of Aintree Grand National star Tiger Roll, said: “We need to put our heads together – with a way of finishing the jumps season – if possible.”

Elliott’s suggestion is three days of Punchestown and one/two days of Fairyhouse’s Easter meeting to be staged in May.

The HRI board held a meeting on March 25 to discuss the implications to halt sporting events. Negotiations began with the Irish government to agree financial support for those affected by the temporary postponement of racing.

The HRI board asked Jason Morris, director of racing, to review the cancelled fixtures implications – and the options of potential re-scheduling meetings.

HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh said the policy has always been to look for scope – to reschedule meetings if at all possible.

HRI have not ruled out going behind closed doors once again, having staged 10 meetings behind closed doors in March.

Racing authorities, along with the breeding sector, that has over 28,000 full-time employees, will continue liaison with government.

Following the impact of the coronavirus, racecourses, jockeys, trainers, breeders, stable staff, bookmakers and other racing service providers, have been affected.

“What is most important is that as a country we do all we can individually and collectively to fight the transmission of Covid-19,” said HRI chairman Nicky Hartery.

The HRI board applauded the support of the government to fight the transmission of coronovirus. Cork racecourse was a base put in use as a testing centre from March 26.


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