HORSE racing will return in Ireland on June 8.
The HRI got confirmation today that fixtures can resume next month, earlier than the June 29 date previously given for meetings behind closed doors.
However the government hasn't given clearance for greyhound racing to re-commence on the same day. The Irish Greyhound Board had expected they would be allowed to operate again in line with horse racing.
IGB chairman Frank Nyhan argued they had already proved their ability to run behind closed doors in March.
"The strict enforcement of a ‘one person, one dog’ policy with a small number of regulatory personnel on site ensures a well-managed activity with all risks minimised. The extensive outdoor areas at our tracks enables social distancing requirements to be fully met without difficulty," he said.
"The IGB is at a loss to understand why, on a risk basis, greyhound racing is not assessed as being capable of operating behind closed doors from June 8 as it is clear that all necessary protocols can be fully complied with.
"The arrangements already in place , and the further enhancements proposed ensure that the greyhound community can safely participate in racing behind closed doors and enable the greyhound racing industry to be restarted and provide an outlet for the health and welfare of our greyhounds.
"We are taking the matter up immediately with the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine to obtain clarification on the overall situation."
Only key personnel necessary to run racing fixtures will be permitted to be on site from June 8 where they will be subject to strict Covid-19 protocols. All those in attendance will be subject to health surveying in advance and thermal temperature screening on entry.
On Sunday HRI will publish a revised fixture list for June.
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, 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 10 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.
“We will publish our full protocols tomorrow and will require any key personnel necessary to run a race fixture to read the document in full.
“On Sunday we will release a revised fixture list up to the end of June, including confirmation on when the Classics, traditionally scheduled for this time of year, will be run.”
Racing restarted behind closed doors in Germany on May 7 and in France on May 11, while in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong the industry continued operating behind closed doors. In Britain, the British Horseracing Authority plans to resume racing on June 1.
“I would like to acknowledge the constructive engagement with the Government throughout the consultative process through the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed and his officials," said Kavanagh.
"It was reassuring that the importance of horse racing as an industry was fully appreciated. The industry supports 29,000 jobs in rural Ireland, and we are the third largest producer, and largest exporter, of thoroughbreds in the world, all of which depends on racing taking place on track.
“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.”