‘The nation’s health is far more important than horse racing or any sport’

‘The nation’s health is far more important than horse racing or any sport’
Horses led around the parade ring at the Mansionbet Raceday at the Cork Racecourse, Mallow before the shutdown. Picture: Dan Linehan

THE manager of Cork Racecourse, Andrew Hogan believes that he is very fortunate to be living in the countryside during these unprecedented times. 

Hogan is also the manager at Tipperary Racecourse, the former amateur jockey is kept busy at present ensuring both tracks will be ready for action once the sport gets the green light to resume.

“I count my blessing every day that I live in the country side and not in the city, I feel sorry for people that are stuck inside apartments and can’t get out to enjoy the country air or take in the scenery.

“I am kept busy at the Cork Racecourse, the large facility is been used as a Covid-19 testing site, and I’m also preparing the track for racing, once we are told that we can proceed I want to make sure everything is in top shape.

“It’s hard to be thinking of racing when you hear about the unfortunate deaths on a daily basis and the amount people suffering from the virus, the nations health and well-being is obviously far more important than sport. Racing shouldn’t resume until it is safe to do so.” 

Since the sport was put in lockdown Cork Racecourse just like other tracks across the country has lost some of its big fixtures.

“We lost our big student day meeting and of course we also couldn’t hold our annual Racing Home for Easter meeting which is the highlight of our racing calendar. I would safely say that already we are down 50% of our annual revenue. 

"But it is all but into perspective when you consider the turmoil the virus is causing to peoples lives across the world. We can wait for racing to come back and when it does the most important thing is that we have all come through the pandemic in one piece.” 

The past year has been fruitful at the north Cork venue, attendances were up, prize money increased, field sizes were healthy plus the opening of the new seven furlongs straight track was another positive for the racecourse.

“We had a brilliant season, I couldn’t have been happier, we had record crowds at our Easter fixture, we also managed to run all our meetings which is no mean achievement when you are dealing with a course that has flooding issues. 

"We opened our new seven furlongs track last may and have got plenty of positive reports from leading trainers and riders. 

"Some in the know have said that it is one of the best straight seven furlongs track in Europe. We are excited that we will attract a better standard of race and horse when ever we get back racing on it.” 

Cork Racecourse has always received plenty of support from a host of leading trainers in the Cork region, the track is extremely popular with both flat and national hunt handlers.

“We are so lucky to have support from the large amount trainers in the Cork area, at every meeting be it flat or jumps we are guaranteed to have runners from local yards, this in turn brings a large amount of racegoers from Cork to the track. 

"If I need to call on the local trainers for assistance of any kind, they are only to happy to help, the support we got from them for our Marymount day was phenomenal. With their support we raised over €72,000 for the very worthy cause.” 

When racing is given the all clear to resume it will more than likely be behind closed doors, before racing was brought to a halt a few meeting were successful held with out any member of the public been present, Hogan feels that behind closed doors was policed correctly and it would probably be the best and safest way to resume the sport.

“When I get the call to start racing at the track, everything will be in order, at present we are grass cutting and maintaining the surface, it will perhaps start back behind closed doors which I would be happy with. 

"The meetings that took place in the days coming up to lock down were managed correctly and there was no issue, it is the safest and fairness way to resume our sport, when it happens I don’t know, all I do know is that it wont be before May 5.”

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