Starting from last weekend, Ireland will continue hosting horse races behind closed doors following the ongoing global pandemic. However, these indoor races will be staged with a series of added measures to minimize the impact of critical resources and guarantee social distancing. That leaves Ireland to be the only major racing country in Europe still continuing with sporting activities amid the current Corona Virus pandemic.
From Friday last week, only one meeting has been staged per day, and no evening meetings are held. Additionally, owners won’t be allowed to attend the races, and no overseas jockey will be allowed to race. The races will also feature a maximum of 30 minutes break to help with the social distancing discipline in this harsh moment.
All weighing room saunas stand closed till further notice, and the jockeys’ weights will rise above 2lbs on both flats and over jumps. The new measures are aimed at helping the riders manage their allotted weight, coming after a meeting featuring Ireland’s Sport’s senior executives on Wednesday. The move is aimed at allowing Irish people to see the streaming of all the horse racing events during these dark and unprecedented times.
According to Ireland’s horseracing chairman, Nicky Hartery, the racing community is looking for ways to support the industry throughout what lies ahead. The organization made it clear that they’ve made their medical personnel and facilities available to the government during these harsh times. HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh further added that the revised program wouldn’t be giving the fans racing as they know it.
Kavanagh emphasized social distancing in workplaces and said that nothing about Irish life is the way it was a week ago. Similarly, these races will be staged uniquely compared to the way people previously knew it. These races will be hosted on open-air sites, with few select individuals present at the site. However, nobody else will be allowed near the venues without being directly involved.
Once a trainer or jockey has finished their business on the site, they’ll be required to leave. Moreover, the organizers have done risk assessments on ever racecourse facility, with some fixtures being subjected to more considerable limitations to enhance the social distancing directive. The move comes as French racing cancelled their racing program till mid-April. The British Horseracing Authority also abandoned their attempts to bring the game back to the fans without spectators until 30th April.
Despite the reluctance by other horse racing giants to bring the sport back amid the ongoing pandemic, Ireland is determined to push on for as long as they can. Ireland will be following the lead of Australia and Hong Kong, where racing is still continuing behind closed doors.