Owners return to racing at Gowran and Listowel on Bank Holiday Monday
Two owners per runner will be allowed attend meetings as restrictions relaxed
Paul Townend celebrates with winning connections during last September’s Listowel Festival. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
A pair of otherwise unremarkable Bank Holiday Monday fixtures at Gowran and Listowel sees the long-awaited return of owners to Irish racing.
Apart from a brief two-week period last September, owners haven’t been able to watch their runners since racing resumed behind closed doors one year and one day ago.
The Government decision that up to 200 people can attend outdoor events from Monday means two owners per runner will be authorised by Horse Racing Ireland to attend.
The return of some spectators in the Republic won’t take place until 1,000 people are allowed attend one of the Government’s pilot sporting events at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on June 26th.
Relaxation of government guidelines in Northern Ireland means that a limited number of spectators will be able to attend Down Royal’s ‘Summer Festival’ on June 18th-19th.
Owners going to Listowel and Gowran have to follow certain protocols such as advance registration and arriving through a health screening check-in area.
They will also be confined outdoors and have to wear face masks. Designated areas for owners to meet trainers and jockeys have been established at each track. Winning owners are allowed enter the parade ring after their race to welcome in their horse.
“Owners have stood by the industry during a very difficult period and their return on track paves the way for greater opening up race meetings to race fans in the coming months,” said HRI’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh.
Monday is also the start of lengthy break for jump racing’s best known jockeys such as Rachael Blackmore.
In consultation with the Irish Jockeys Association, they have been given an extended break from race riding until the end of this month.
The eight National Hunt meetings up to June 19th will be confined to conditional riders and riders who have not ridden more than 15 winners in the previous 12 months up to last Thursday.
There is no jump racing from June 19th to June 30th which will allow for a 12-day break for all jump jockeys.
That can pay off at Listowel for Barry Browne who teams up with the mercurial Samcro in a conditions chase.
Jump racing’s former ‘next big thing’ is being kept on the go through the summer with a possible tilt at the Galway Plate in the offing.
He renews rivalry with Peregrine Run from his victory in Killarney last time out and should relish ground conditions that require watering.
Gowran’s flat action sees a quick return to action for Saturday’s Listowel winner Galtee Mist in a handicap.
Joe Murphy’s runner beat Mudaway by a couple of lengths over six furlongs on soft ground. The extra furlong and quicker conditions shouldn’t be a problem for a mare that could end up competing at black type level.
Sunniyra has ground to make up on White Pepper on their last clash in Navan but a combination of a better draw and a first-time visor could make a difference in one of the maidens.