Ireland is the latest country to permit horseracing to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Irish government has revealed that horseracing will be able to resume from 8 June following the suspension of racing events due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Horseracing in Ireland was initially moved behind closed doors on 13 March prior to the government’s decision to temporarily suspend all sporting events in the country.
The return of Irish horseracing
The Irish government said that it would permit racing activities to resume behind closed doors from next month, but with several measures in place to accommodate social distancing.
Strict limits will be placed on how many racing personnel can attend racing events once they resume. Staff members in attendance will be subject to a health screening in advance and a thermal temperature screening upon arriving at racing venues. Anyone who has an elevated temperature will not be allowed to attend the event.
Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: “We are grateful to be one of the sectors permitted to go back to work and acknowledge the responsibility on everybody in racing to ensure the events are run in a safe way.
“We know from our own experience in March when we safely ran ten meetings behind closed doors – and from what is happening in other countries like France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and America – that racing can be staged safely within the requirements of social distancing.”
More measures being introduced
Horse Racing Ireland has also insisted on the mandatory wearing of face coverings for on-track racing personnel. This includes jockeys, stalls handlers, security staff and the medical professionals who will be at venues. People aged 70 and over will not be allowed to attend racing events for the time being.
Social distancing measures will be enforced by dedicated coronavirus protocol officers located at each racing event. Surfaces will be regularly disinfected before races and throughout race days and all indoor areas will be well ventilated.
Horse Racing Ireland will also host a series of educational webinars to help staff understand the changes they will encounter when returning to work.
Kavanagh said: “The decision to allow racing to resume behind closed doors will be welcomed within the industry. For flat racing in particular, but also for a significant portion of the National Hunt population, there is a seasonal and cyclical nature to the industry and these are key months in the trade and export of horses with proven form on the race track, as well as a vital period in the sales season.
“These will not be race meetings as you might traditionally imagine them, rather stripped back events which will determine the best horses in various categories, a vital factor for the breeding industry. Attendance will be kept to an absolute minimum and Covid-19 protocols will be strictly enforced.”
Horse Racing Ireland will announce more details about the dates and times of race events in the coming days.
Other countries resume racing
Ireland is the latest country to permit horseracing events to resume behind closed doors amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, the British Horseracing Authority announced it plans to recommence horseracing from 1 June. Racing in New Zealand is also set to resume later this month. Horseracing returned in Germany on 7 May and in France on 11 May.
While several countries paused all racing events, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong continued to hold racing events behind closed doors.