Article by Darren O’Conghaile
Ruby Walsh, is perhaps the finest National Hunt jockey that the sport has seen, believes implementing social distancing should not prove too much of a problem when horse racing eventually resumes.
Speaking in a questions and answers session for racingtv.com, the twelve times Irish champion jockey stated, “It’s not that difficult to do it once you close the gates and there are no spectators, no bookmakers and no owners. I don’t even know if trainers need to be there, apart from those with smaller numbers of staff.
He then added; “You could go even further. With no connections, jockeys would not need to congregate in the parade ring. They could walk straight out 10 minutes before the off, get on the horse and go straight to the start.
“With enough will – and if you were looking to make it work – it is easy to do it and I think you can keep people a safe distance apart while you are at it”.
“They have an opportunity to make a case, but this country will be led by the health people. When they decide that’s when we will know when there is a resumption of normal life, let alone racing. Everyone will be guided by what they say.”
Walsh – who retired last year – also thinks the experience of staging fixtures under strict measures should stand Horse Racing Ireland in good stead when it comes to planning a route forward for the sport.
He said: “They have a blueprint and they refined it from one meeting to the next. Racing has some big challenges to face and overcome but I think it can and, being a solitary sport, it has a bigger chance of resuming (sooner) than a lot of team sports.
“There is a golden opportunity for racing to showcase itself to a much broader audience in the coming weeks and months.”