Punchestown and Galway aim to race away during vaccination campaign

Courses have been named as county centres for Covid-19 jabs

The Punchestown Festival takes place from April 27th to May 1st. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

The Punchestown Festival takes place from April 27th to May 1st. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

No interference with racing is anticipated at either Punchestown or Galway racecourses after both were confirmed among 37 nationwide vaccination centres announced on Monday.

They will be the vaccination facilities for counties Kildare and Galway respectively. Punchestown’s events centre has been used as a Covid-19 testing centre since August.

“That is set to continue,” said Punchestown’s general manager Conor O’Neill. “The vaccination centre and the testing centre have to run simultaneously. However, they have to be two completely separate facilities.

“So it is proposed the vaccination centre will take place in the trackside pavilion which is adjacent to the test centre.

“From our perspective it is no different to testing which has had no impact on racing. I certainly don’t envisage vaccination having any impact on our ability to race,” he added.

Racing is set to continue behind closed doors for the foreseeable future with Horse Racing Ireland predicting there will be no return to significant crowd numbers this year.

Punchestown hosts its National Hunt festival from April 27th to May 1st this year. The famous Galway summer festival takes place from July 26th to August 1st.

“It looks for the foreseeable future that we will be racing behind closed doors. But if there was any flexibility on that it [the vaccination centre] won’t impact on our ability to adapt,” said O’Neill.

HRI’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh commented: “It’s great to see these two prominent racecourses playing their part.”

In other news the five-time Grade One winner Delta Work looks set to miss the rest of the season due to a setback.

The Gigginstown Stud-owned star finished third to Kemboy in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown during the Dublin Racing Festival earlier this month, after which a leg problem emerged.

“Unfortunately Delta Work has suffered a setback which has shown up since his last run at Leopardstown. It’s going to rule him out of the [Cheltenham] Gold Cup and probably the rest of the season,” reported his trainer Gordon Elliott.

Delta Work had been a general 25-1 shot in betting lists to improve on his fifth in last season’s Gold Cup behind Al Boum Photo.

The American-trained French Light, runner-up to Thedevilscoachman in a listed hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday, looks set to be disqualified after carrying 7lbs less than it should.

An administrative declaration error is understood to have failed to have taken into account two hurdle race wins in the US that should have seen the Keri Brion-trained horse carry 7lbs more than it did.

The Ger Galligan ridden French Light earned €5,500 in prizemoney for finishing a two-length runner up in the INH Stallion Owners Novice Hurdle but looks set to lose it.

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