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ARTICLE BY DARREN O’CONGHAILE

The Board of Horse Racing Ireland met yesterday and approved a number of fixture and prize money recommendations.

It sees Irish racing return behind closed doors at Naas on June 8, with National Hunt racing resuming at Limerick on June 22. The 2000 and 1000 Guineas will take place at the Curragh in the first week of action, with the 2000 Guineas on Friday June 12 and the 1000 Guineas on Saturday June 13. The Irish Derby retains its traditional date on Saturday, June 27, as does the Irish Oaks on Saturday, July 18. Irish Champions Weekend will take place on September 12 and 13.

For the first three weeks, racing will be restricted to nine racecourses which are more centrally located to minimise travel distances and which also have higher stable capacities given the requirement for one stable per horse under the new protocols. Wherever possible 8 race cards will be staged to maximise opportunities for the horse population. Safety limits will be decided on a racecourse by racecourse basis to accommodate each track’s social distancing requirements, with a general maximum limit of 18 initially. It has been agreed that Cork racecourse will not be among those used in June when it will continue to serve an important role as an HSE Test Centre for Covid-19.

All the fixtures will take place under the strict protocols published yesterday by Horse Racing Ireland. One of those protocols involves the prior health screening of all those who will attend each race meeting and, to facilitate the efficient delivery of this, 48-hour declarations will be introduced for all races in June.

Arising from the financial situation the industry finds itself in, regrettably a number of prize money reductions will take immediate effect for June, with the possibility that further downward adjustments will be required through the rest of the year. The focus has been on maintaining prize money levels in the lower to medium tiers as high as possible.

There will be no apprentice races or claiming races in the opening two weeks, and 10lb claimers with less than six rides will not be permitted to take rides in the first fortnight.

With no racecourse saunas permitted to open under the Covid-19 protocols, the 2lb increase in weights introduced in March will continue to be applied to all races.

Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said:

“With the confirmation on Friday of the resumption of racing on June 8, we are now publishing the fixture list and the associated details for the first three weeks of racing. We are grateful to everybody for the patience they have shown during this very difficult time and we will provide every opportunity for essential personnel to fully understand and implement the return to racing protocols”.

JUNE FIXTURES (Flat unless otherwise indicated)

  • June 8 Naas
  • June 9 Leopardstown
  • June 10 Navan
  • June 11 Gowran Park
  • June 12 Curragh
  • June 13 Curragh
  • June 14 Leopardstown
  • June 15 Fairyhouse, Roscommon
  • June 17 Gowran Park, Limerick
  • June 18 Fairyhouse
  • June 19 Tipperary, Gowran Park
  • June 20 Naas
  • June 21 Leopardstown
  • June 22 Roscommon, Limerick (NH)
  • June 23 Navan
  • June 24 Naas, Roscommon (NH)
  • June 25 Fairyhouse
  • June 26 Curragh, Tipperary (NH)
  • June 27 Curragh
  • June 28 Curragh
  • June 29 Limerick, Kilbeggan (NH