Horse Racing Ireland and race meetings


Sir, – The decision by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) to continue holding race meetings behind “closed doors” may be evidence that Irish racing takes place on another planet – one that does not sustain intelligent life.

In the light of the Taoiseach’s comments and predictions in his speech, this decision appears to be reckless and not in the least public spirited.

Intriguingly, its decision to tell the industry to work on was taken by the HRI board in the safety of a virtual meeting, held by telephone. Is there one set of guidelines for the industry’s elite and a lesser set for the people who do the work?

All other racing authorities in Europe have suspended racing. HRI asserts that its decision “is motivated by the need to maintain employment and incomes for people working in the industry”. This is not convincing, since the Government has initiated enhanced, fast-tracked social protection payments for anyone who is laid off work because of the Covid-19 emergency. It smacks more of a desire to cosset breeders, owners and trainers.

The HRI press release states that, “We have consulted with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine throughout this process”. I find it extraordinary that a government department would acquiesce in a decision by a State body that subverts the spirit, if not the letter, of the Government’s fight against Covid-19. Meanwhile, the Government will fork out €67 million of taxpayers’ money to fund HRI this year! – Yours, etc,



Co Meath.

Sir, – Horse Racing Ireland is continuing racing behind “closed doors”. This betrays the true purpose of racing, namely off-course gambling, which causes untold financial hardship to many families. – Yours, etc,



Co Derry.

Sir, – In these unprecedented times the decision of Horse Racing Ireland to continue with horse racing is inexcusable. My understanding is that Turf Club doctors are required to be present at these meetings. Surely they would be much better employed in a hospital setting to assist in the current emergency. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Is Horse Racing Ireland the only sporting body that could make the FAI look good? – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.