Cork Racecourse in Mallow will be a test centre for Covid-19 from Thursday

Cork Racecourse in Mallow will be a test centre for Covid-19 from Thursday
Conor McNamara on Donkey Years over the last to win the Charleville Cheese Maiden Hurdle at Cork Racecourse in Mallow last December. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

CORK Racecourse in Mallow has been made available by the board of Horse Racing Ireland for Covid-19 testing.

On Tuesday, new government measures saw the suspension of all horse racing fixtures until April 19 at the earliest. Up to then, the HRI had held race meetings behind closed doors.

The home of Cork GAA, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, is already in use as a test centre.

The Cork Racecourse at Mallow is closed to the sport but open for test by the HSE.
The Cork Racecourse at Mallow is closed to the sport but open for test by the HSE.

Horse Racing Ireland chairman, Nicky Hartery said: “What is most important is that as a country we do all we can individually and collectively to fight the transmission of Covid-19 and focus on our health, ensuring that resources such as medical facilities and personnel are allocated where the need is most.

“We have consistently said that racing’s facilities are at the disposal of the Government. On Tuesday, the HSE began preparations to use Cork Racecourse in Mallow as a much-needed testing centre for the virus and the centre will be operational from tomorrow. 

"Horse Racing Ireland will be working with the HSE and the Government to identify other elements of racing’s personnel and infrastructure that could be used in the co-ordinated reaction to the crisis.” 

A total of 10 fixtures were held behind closed doors since the original restrictions on public gatherings were introduced.

“What this has proven is that race fixtures can be safely staged while at the same time offering some level of business continuity for a crucial rural industry," said HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh.

"The vital experience gained from staging these meetings behind closed doors may assist us to return racing as soon as possible. For the immediate future, however, there are more important priorities.” 

Cork is a stronghold of racing, which was shown at Cheltenham recently, where Lisgoold's Paul Townend was crowned top jockey, while Davy Russell (3), Aidan Coleman, Gavin Sheehan and Maxine O'Sullivan also rode winners.

A number of horses also came through the Cork point-to-point circuit, though this season, which doesn't operate at the height of the summer, is unlikely to be completed due to the Coronavirus shutdown. 

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