Racehorse owners in Dublin advised not to go racing by HRI
83 owners reportedly attended Monday’s meetings at Fairyhouse and Listowel
83 owners attended Monday’s fixtures at Fairyhouse, pictured,and Listowel. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Horse Racing Ireland is advising racehorse owners living in Dublin not to go racing while the city and county operates under Level 3 restrictions due to coronavirus.
On Monday just more then 80 owners took the opportunity to go to the races on the first day of an easing of coronavirus restrictions within the sport in Ireland.
For the first time since March, up to 200 people were allowed on-site at each of Monday’s fixtures in Fairyhouse and at the Listowel festival.
The return of owners has been a priority for Horse Racing Ireland and the industry’s ruling body said it is too early to say whether such a relatively low uptake on places might free up availability for other potential spectators in future.
“Eighty-three is I believe the number between the two tracks. We’re not going to judge it on one day. We will take stock and see what level of demand there is and the reaction of people on the ground. It’s good to see owners back in the first instance.
“It’s a Monday afternoon, one of the meetings is quite remote, and one of the main counties in the country is locked down. So it’s probably too early to make a long-term call on that,” said HRI’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh.
Both HRI and the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board have advised owners based in Dublin to follow government guidelines in relation to essential travel.
“I don’t think going to see a horse run qualifies as a necessary journey. Like all these things it is government guidance. It is a matter of personal choice but I’ve no doubt most will heed the guidance,” Kavanagh said.
The IHRB oversee the health screening protocols necessary to access racecourses and a spokesman for the regulatory body added: “The national guidelines in Dublin are Level 3 so the advice is not to travel from Dublin other than for essential business.
“We will encourage anyone who lives in Dublin that owns a racehorse to adhere to those guidelines for another three weeks.”
There have been warnings from government about the possibility of eight other counties also having their Covid-19 status elevated to Level 3 due to rising infection rates.
That includes Co Kildare as well as counties Louth, Limerick and Waterford which also have racecourses. Level 3 status means racing has to revert to taking place behind closed doors under the Living with Covid roadmap.
“We will see what happens but it’s going to be stop-go, stop-go a little bit in the current scenario.
“As I understand it, if other counties go to Level 3, while racing can continue, it will be behind closed doors, and the advice will be that owners based in that county are advised to make journeys for essential work.
“While we were able to have owners in Listowel and Fairyhouse today, if it was Leopardstown it would be behind closed doors,” Brian Kavanagh said.
Monday saw an easing of Covid-19 restrictions in relation to horses being allowed compete on either side of the Irish Sea.
HRI and the British Horseracing Authority outlined reciprocal arrangements to adjust restrictions on participation by runners trained in international jurisdictions.
“As of October 1st, internationally-trained horses will be permitted to participate again in all British races other than Class 5 and 6 handicaps-classified stakes on the Flat, and Class 5 handicaps over jumps.
“Any such runners would remain subject to the relevant Government regulations in place at the time, including reference to whether the horses, and therefore any individuals accompanying them, are trained in an exempt or non-exempt country,” a BHA statement said.
Reciprocal arrangements will be introduced in Ireland from next month although “a horse trained outside of Ireland, with a flat handicap rating of less than 60 will not be qualified to run in an Irish flat handicap.”
All overseas runners in Ireland will also be required to adhere to Irish Government guidelines and HRI protocols.
The BHA said the new restrictions are intended to balance the importance of locally-trained horses being given an opportunity to run, especially in low-grade handicaps, with the requirement to improve the quality of racing and see the best possible horses compete, and encourage international competition.