Crowds ruled out at Irish Champions Weekend and Listowel festival

September fixtures to be staged behind closed doors due to Covid-19 uncertainty

Ryan Moore on Love wins the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Longines Irish Champions Weekend in the Curragh Racecourse, Kildare in September 2019. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ryan Moore on Love wins the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Longines Irish Champions Weekend in the Curragh Racecourse, Kildare in September 2019. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Two of Ireland’s biggest September fixtures, the Longines Irish Champions Weekend and the Listowel Harvest Festival, will be staged behind closed doors because of continued uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Irish Champions Weekend is scheduled for September 12th and 13th, with the first card at Leopardstown featuring the Irish Champion Stakes and the Coolmore America Justify Matron Stakes.

The second day at the Curragh is highlighted by four further Group One races: the Comer Group International Irish St Leger, Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, Moyglare Stud Stakes and Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes.

It had initially been hoped crowds of up to 5,000 people might be permitted by September; but, after the Irish Government announced a delay to the next phase of its lockdown-lifting roadmap last week, organisers decided there was little chance spectators could be allowed at the fixture.

Paul Dermody, chief executive of HRI Racecourses, said: “With less than eight weeks to go before Longines Irish Champions Weekend, it was the committee’s view that this was the optimum time to give people certainty.

“It is a great shame that our feature weekend of flat racing will not be enjoyed by racegoers in person this September, but we will ensure a warm welcome for everybody when they return next year.

‘Refunding’

“In the meantime, we will be refunding all of those who availed of early-bird and advance ticket offers. We will now focus our attention on providing racing fans with a brilliant at-home experience.”

Harry McCalmont, chairman of the Irish Champions Weekend committee, added: “We had dearly hoped that circumstances would allow us to have racegoers back on the racecourse for Longines Irish Champions Weekend, but that doesn’t look at all likely, so it is best to make a call on it now.

“It is a great pity, but we still have a wonderful weekend of racing to look forward to. The committee would like to take the opportunity to thank the sponsors of all races for their loyalty, and we look forward with interest to see the array of horses that will line up at Leopardstown and the Curragh.”

Listowel’s bumper seven-day meeting, scheduled from September 20th-26th, will also take place without a crowd – with chairman Pat Healy believing it best to make a timely decision.

He said: “In these unprecedented times, and in line with Government guidelines, the Listowel Race Company has made the extremely difficult decision to race behind closed doors.

“This means the event will not be open to the general public this year.

“The health and safety of everyone is our number one priority – and with crowd restrictions in place, it would be very difficult for us to run the festival, because it attracts significant numbers of visitors to Listowel each year.

“Making the announcement now gives all of our valued patrons notice, with regard to travel plans and accommodation bookings.

“We would also like to acknowledge and thank the residents and business community of Listowel for their contribution to the Festival down through the years and already look forward to welcoming everyone back in 2021.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.