HRI to access job implications of extended period of racing behind closed doors

‘There are huge issues there and maybe some opportunities as well’

 Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Horse Racing Ireland has said an extended period of racing behind closed doors could end up having implications for jobs at the semi-State body.

Government clarity that the sport can resume here behind closed doors on June 8th finally came on Friday after weeks of uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

HRI’s attention has been dominated recently in persuading Government to move forward a resumption date from June 29th.

It’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh had previously commented that staffing levels at HRI would be examined at the end of last month. He said on Friday that area would now be looked at.

“A lot of it depends on the nature of how racing comes back. If, as looks likely, we are behind closed doors for an extended period of time, or even if we go beyond closed doors and there is severe restrictions on attendances at race meetings, that has implications,” Kavanagh said.

He said over there are over 170 full-time jobs at HRI of which 90 are employed in subsidiary companies such as the Tote, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing and at four racecourses, Leopardstown, Navan, Tipperary and Fairyhouse. There are 82 posts in HRI itself.

“To be frank we haven’t got into that. That’s the next task. Having got certainty around the resumption of racing now we can start looking at the long-term fallout. There are huge issues there and maybe some opportunities as well so we will see,” he added.

Separately, Kavanagh also noted that Government policy on Covid-19 restrictions will determine whether overseas trained horses can compete for the top races here.

A HRI board meeting on Saturday will put an official seal on a revamped programme that will see Ireland’s Classic races pushed back.

The first Classics of the year, the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas, were originally scheduled to take place next weekend at the Curragh.

Travel restrictions due to the Coronavirus emergency had previously prompted suggestions that Europe’s Classic races might end up confined to horses trained in each individual country with an inevitable impact on the sport’s pattern race system.

“We’re talking to the French and the British. The French have no international runners, and Germany is the same, until at least June 1st. I think with France it may be June 15th.

“Britain are talking about no international runners other than Group One races.

“We will look at that in due course and come up with a policy. But the driver of that is the Government’s position on people visiting the country.

“I think if you come in, as a visitor or as an Irish citizen, you have to self-isolate for 14 days. So that would be a requirement,” Kavanagh said.

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