Irish racing was yesterday, given the green light by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) to continue, but must follow a strict set of government guidelines regarding the Coronavirus.
Racing has received a lot of unwarranted negative press in recent days for continuing to operate, lots of people see it purely as leisure or social activity, and many do not realise that upwards of 30,000 people are employed in the industry throughout the country, but without doubt, it is one of the businesses that can easily operate under the governments strict set of guidelines.
The bloodstock industry is vital to Wexford’s economy, this is clearly shown by the Deloitte Report, produced in 2017.
• The racing industry in Wexford and Wicklow supports over 1,600 jobs
• The direct and stimulated expenditure of the industry in counties Wexford and Wicklow is estimated at €84 million per annum
• Over 750 registered breeders in the region, representing 12% of the total in Ireland, and a total breeding revenue of €29 million
• An estimated €24 million invested in capital projects in Wexford and Wicklow in the last 10 years.
HRI CEO, Brian Kavanagh acknowledged the
“rapidly changing situation” and their regular communication with the Government in their decision to continue racing.
Racecourses by their nature offer opportunities for social distancing that few other workplaces can. Nothing in Irish life is as it was a week ago, and in the same way, these are not race fixtures as we previously knew them,
They are big open-air sites with very few people present and nobody on site if they are not involved: once a jockey or trainer has finished their business for the afternoon, they are required to leave.
Local trainer, Paul Nolan, stated,
“It’s obviously good news if we can keep racing, as long as everybody is mindful of the situation and is conscientious in washing their hands and doing everything they can to keep people safe.
I was racing in Wexford on Tuesday and it is a little bit strange. There was obviously no public there and jockeys had to come out of the weighing room one by one and a certain distance apart.”
The restrictions are:
• Point to Point fixtures will be closed to the public with recommended social distancing measures implemented.
• Access will be restricted to essential service providers and industry participants.
• There will be no catering services or on-course bookmakers provided.
• One groom per runner will be admitted to the Point to Point venue.
• One owner per runner will be admitted to the Point to Point venue.
• Only Qualified Riders participating on the day will be admitted to the Point to Point venue.
• Only handlers, or their representative, with horses running at the fixture will be admitted.
• All participants will be asked to vacate the Point to Point venue after their horses have run.