Gowran making plans for a full house next Thursday after Covid restrictions lifted

Prestigious Thyestes Chase will be staged at the Kilkenny track next week

The Thyestes Chase  on Thursday could see a full house according to Gowran Park manager Eddie Scally. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

The Thyestes Chase on Thursday could see a full house according to Gowran Park manager Eddie Scally. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Officials reckon Gowran Park could be full this Thursday for the first significant race meeting since the Government confirmed on Friday night it has scrapped most Covid-19 restrictions.

The relaxation of limits on sporting events has been roundly welcomed within racing, which had been planning on the basis of a maximum attendance limit of 5,000 spectators.

Friday’s announcement means the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown in two weeks’ time can be reopened for ticket sales.

Although there is action this weekend at Navan and Thurles, the impact of the new regime will be most significantly felt at Gowran for its prestigious Thyestes Chase programme on Thursday.

“We’re over the moon. We had hoped some of the restrictions would be lifted but to see everything lifted is just brilliant news,” Gowran manager Eddie Scally said on Friday night.

“I think we could nearly be sold out. We had limited attendance to 50 per cent, which is 4,500.

“I’ve reopened the booking so we’re expecting demand to be huge for the first day out so we could be full with 8,500 to 9,000 people here,” he added.

The impact of the Omicron variant on staffing, which had put Leopardstown’s Christmas festival behind closed doors last month, won’t be an issue at Gowran.

“What we save on checking for Covid certs means 26 or 27 staff are saved for other areas so there is no problem with staff,” Scally said.

The scrapping of the Covid pass for indoor hospitality, and no social distancing requirement, is of major significance for racing and the Government announcement has been welcomed by Horse Racing Ireland.

Leopardstown’s chief executive Tim Husbands described Friday’s announcement as great news for all sport.

“It’s a surprise, I don’t think many people saw it coming, but it is great news for everyone in all sports,” he said.

“We expect to be able to accommodate all demand for the Dublin Racing Festival. What that demand will be is unclear. There could well be a degree of caution still. But we are very confident we will be able to accommodate all the demand,” Husbands added.

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