Irish horse racing given green light to return on 8th June
And they’re off…
It may have seemed like a long time coming with bookies in Ireland pleased that Irish horse racing is once again under starters orders with a much-anticipated return pencilled in for 8th June, just in time for the first two domestic classics of the season – the Irish 2000 and 1000 Guineas. Naas will be the course to welcome back one of the nation’s favourite sports in less than four week’s time and The Curragh will once again feature the two classics just a few days later on the 12th and 13th of the month.
Dates for the diary
Tradition dictates that the Irish Derby takes place on the last weekend of June and it is anticipated that this will be the case in 2020, thus effectively ruling out any chance of runners appearing in both the Irish Derby and the Epsom Derby just a few days later.
Also scheduled for their original dates are the Irish Oaks and the Irish Champions Weekend, the latter taking place on 12th and 13th September, while also on the cards is the return of jumps racing which – all going well – will return on 22nd June.
Overseas runners will be allowed in Group One and Group Two races during June, however any personnel accompanying them will be subject to the government’s ruling that anyone arriving in the country will need to self-isolate for two weeks. This may rule-out any overseas participation in the classics next month, however this rule doesn’t include any arrivals from Northern Ireland and as such the way is open for British runners arriving via the Cairnryan ferry.
Irish racing fans will doubtless be delighted to have their sport back and the fact that prize funds will be somewhat reduced will be seen as a necessary inconvenience. The bigger and more prestigious events have been subjected to the largest cuts, most notably the Irish Champion Stakes and the Irish Derby which will see their prize funds cut from €1.25 million and €1.5 million respectively to just €750,000 apiece.
Protocols in place
All race meetings will be subject to the newly-imposed protocols which have been put in place in an attempt to prevent a resurgence of Covid-19. These include screening and temperature checks for all participants and officials.
Chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, Brian Kavanagh, said: “We expect there to be significant demand for horses to run once we resume and we will aim to provide some opportunities across the spectrum of age, gender and ability. We will have missed 11 weeks’ racing, which will take some time to catch up. We intend to do this over the course of the rest of the year, rather than immediately.”