RACING will return in June with flat racing.
The jumps boys will have to wait their turn which Bandon-based trainer James Dullea says is understandable.
“Like everyone else we’ve have been waiting for a clear roadmap back to racing. In this game you generally have a target for each horse so trainers are just sitting tight until they know the full schedule for racing.
“When jump racing was cancelled for the remainder of the season we were all disappointed. Losing big meetings like Easter at Cork and Fairyhouse was a big blow as plenty of local owners like to have winners at these festival meetings.
“Punchestown was another major casualty and overall we lost about a third of the national hunt season. The point to points people also lost the end of their season which traditionally sees plenty of equine talent trading hands.
“It’s been hugely frustrating but everyone is just getting on with it. For a dual purpose trainer like myself it’s understandable the flat gets back on the road first. We probably haven’t many horses for the flat this summer but we’ll have a couple ready for Galway which will be run behind closed doors. There has been frustration but the way I see it HRI have a job to do and we’ll let them get on with it.
“There are people in a lot worse situations than ourselves so we’ll just keep the head down and keep working away.”
Dullea trains just outside of Bandon and has a terrific strike rate with a small string of horses. His horses are capable of winning anywhere and when the money is down they generally collect. Covid-19 is going to stretch plenty of businesses but the young trainer is glad it happened towards the end of the season.
“To be totally honest about it we are really so lucky it happened near the end of the season. Most of our horses are out early in the jumps season from October to December. We are a family-run operation and hands on with everything here.
“All the horses have to be fed and watered every day. We have a number of horses out in the fields and a few more coming back from injury. We keep about 25 horses in total which means we really get to know our horses.“
When the jumps season goes up a gear in mid-September races from all the lost festivals will be re-run which is something that Dullea agrees with.
“HRI has promised an enhanced program for October and November which we’ll be targeting with our horses. Our racing club has also brought plenty of interested parties to the sport. Our two horses for the club are Satin Sun who has plenty of potential and Moscowsowhat who will make a lovely chaser.”
Horse racing had successfully run 10 meetings behind closed doors prior to the beginning of the lockdown on March 25 and is considered to be one of the safest sports that can take place during this pandemic as it is both non-contact and open air. Trainer Gordon Elliot and our own Davy Russell missed out on an historic bid to win three Grand Nationals in a row with Tiger Roll at Aintree.
Elliott is fuming over the lack of clarity and predicted many jobs will be needlessly lost if jump racing is sidelined any longer than it needs to be. The Meath man has always been a straight shooter and he certainly wasn’t happy when interviewed during the week.
HRI have been inundated with media requests from both sides of the Irish sea but have remained tight lipped about any return for the national hunt yards.
“At the moment we are looking at the possibility of racing not returning until mid to late June and I don’t think we can allow the National Hunt season to gather dust for another month after that. There are an awful lot of trainers and jockeys out there who have families to support and care for and mortgages to pay and they will face ruin if we can’t get back jump racing until late July or early August.”