Horse Racing Ireland 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 of everybody in racing to ensure the events are run safely.
“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.”
Among the new protocols that will be enforced when fixtures restart behind closed doors in Ireland are:
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
The 77 page Protocol document has been published it is extensive in every way. I think it can work with the experience of the ten behind closed doors meetings already held in Ireland. There is also the fact HRI could observe France and Germany who started racing behind closed doors in the last week. It is worth noting racing has continued in Japan, Hong Kong and many parts of the USA.
From our own syndicates' point of view. We know we will not be allowed to attend to support our horses and trainers. Not one owner can attend. We are more then happy with this if it means our horses can race. A big part of syndicates is comradeship, togetherness, fun, craic as well as shared experiences. We have come through this lockdown period as a group very well. If anything, we are even more determined and hungry for success. We are still looking for opportunities to expand. We would like to commend our three trainers, Damian English, Leanne Breen and John McConnell on all of their efforts during the lockdown. They kept us informed as well as providing lots of pictures, videos and updates. We feel very fortunate to work with such good people. We would also like to thank our friends at Hilltop who hosted Mokhalad and Trading Point for gallops at there wonderful facility in Naul. The horses themselves have been in training, they have had the odd easy week to freshen them up. The weather has helped. We have spent the winter building and reorganizing our team. We are looking forward to seeing how these efforts play out.
We will give our trainers the freedom to operate. The three trainers will study the new fixture list. They will need time to absorb as well as reflect on the season ahead as a whole. They will plan for the road ahead and work the plans. We go into the season with a nice team of horses Mokhalad, Trading Point, Parkers Hill, Lottieloveheart and Stanhope. For the trainers, they have an idea of where they are at with the horses. There is as we know not a substitute for the racecourse and race fitness. It is that sharpness that tells all. The number one priority of The Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate is always the welfare of our horses. That will remain the core of our decision-making process. We hope with a decent spread of opportunities that we can make a positive start. As always we will be patient while enjoying every twist and turn in the road ahead.