HRI seeking clarity from Government over isolation ahead of Champions Weekend

Ryan Moore is already in isolation in Ireland ahead of flat racing showpiece

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is seeking clarity from the Government as to whether jockeys may be exempt from the 14-day self-isolating regulation for anyone entering the country due to coronavirus.

The two-week requirement to self-isolate threatens to have a significant impact on the upcoming Irish Champions Weekend fixtures at Leopardstown and the Curragh.

Half a dozen Group One races are on offer across the two meetings on Saturday and Sunday week in Irish flat racing’s showpiece event of the year.

Such is the importance of the event that English jockey Ryan Moore is already in quarantine in Ireland in order to ride for Aidan O'Brien at it.


Coolmore Stud’s number one rider hasn’t ridden here in 2020 due to the Covid-19 protocols that have been in place since racing resumed behind closed doors on June 8th.

On Tuesday he told the Betfair organisation, for which he is an ambassador, that he has been in isolation in Ireland since Saturday.

“It means that I am stuck in a house on my own for a fortnight but it is well worth that small hardship,” Moore said.

“I am not sure what I will be riding yet. But I imagine the likes of Magical, Japan, Peaceful, Fancy Blue and Battleground will all be in the mix.

“I am also not certain what I’m going to do on my own for the next 10 days or so but it’s no big deal in the grand scheme of things,” he added.

However concerns about the quarantine rules possibly having an impact on overseas participation – both equine and human – in the most valuable racing programme of the year has prompted HRI to examine if jockeys might get a derogation as elite sports people.

Last month Frankie Dettori rode at Deauville in France and had to isolate for just eight days on his return to England. It means he is free to ride Enable at Kempton this Saturday.

"We've written to the Department of Agriculture to make representations to clarify the position," said HRI's chief executive, Brian Kavanagh.

“That travel restriction has caused difficulties with Irish jockeys riding abroad and coming back. Likewise, up to this point, no UK jockeys are riding here.

“In the context of Champions Weekend, and in the context of the autumn series of international races where there will be more cause for Irish jockeys to ride overseas, we’ve asked for clarity in what would need to be done.”

Irish racing’s top official said it is difficult to quantify any potential impact on Champions Weekend if restrictions aren’t eased.

However he added: “The weekend is built on pitting the best against the best. In that sense the presence of international jockeys would be a big element to it.

“I haven’t seen enough detail in terms of intended runners. There are plenty of UK entries in the races.

“We have seen over the past few weeks and months that getting horses over here and running them is doable. There’s a well-honed system now in terms of horses brought here and taken over by Irish staff.

“[But] they have been ridden by Irish jockeys as opposed to their regular jockeys.”

HRI’s request for clarity is in the context of international travel involving other sports such as the Republic of Ireland’s international soccer match against Bulgaria on Thursday.

Irish players flew from the UK to prepare in Dublin since Sunday, flew to Sofia on Tuesday, and are scheduled to play Finland at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday. The Irish team have been complying with Uefa’s ‘bubble’ restrictions.

In relation to jockeys travelling between Ireland and Britain, Kavanagh said on Tuesday: “The key point is these riders are operating in secure environments on racetracks in the UK and here.

“The rules are as stringent in the UK as they are here in terms of what is happening on tracks.”

There is a British-based runner in Gowran’s Group Three feature on Wednesday with Oisín Orr taking the ride on the Archie Watson-trained Parent’s Prayer.

She faces a tough task though against Johnny Murtagh’s 110-rated Champers Elysees in the Fairy Bridge Stakes.