Changes to racing's controversial reserve system to be announced

Move comes following a review by Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board

Willie Mullins: Patricks Park was first reserve and got into the race when his  stable companion, Ballycasey, was declared a non-runner less than two hours before the Galway Plate began. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Willie Mullins: Patricks Park was first reserve and got into the race when his stable companion, Ballycasey, was declared a non-runner less than two hours before the Galway Plate began. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Irish racing’s controversial reserve system is set to change with the sport’s regulatory body indicating the issues that arose around it at last summer’s Galway Plate won’t be repeated.

In August the ante-post favourite for the Plate, Patricks Park, was first reserve and got into the race when his Willie Mullins-trained stable companion, Ballycasey, was declared a non-runner less than two hours before racing began.

Jockey Ruby Walsh subsequently switched to Patricks Park who started a 9-2 favourite and finished runner-up to Clarcam.

The 2013 Galway Plate saw the JP McManus-owned Carlingford Lough get promoted from first reserve after another McManus-owned horse was declared a non-runner due to a change in going.

In Irish racing, reserves can be added to a race up to an hour and a half before the start of the first race on a card.  

That the make-up of high-profile contests in particular can fluctuate so significantly just hours before a race begins provoked criticism which prompted the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board to hold a review.

“We have proposals and we’re in the process of changing the rules. We will make an announcement in the next few weeks,” the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board chief executive, Denis Egan, said on Tuesday.

“The cut-off point for reserves will change. It will be brought forward and it will eliminate the issues which arose in Galway,” he added.

Currently the Irish Grand National is the only race with a cut-off point different from the rule about reserves getting added up to 90 minutes before the first contest on a programme. The cut-off point for the National is 10.00.  

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