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Irish authorities believe they are well-equipped to handle any restrictions when racing resumes

Irish authorities believe they are well-equipped to handle any restrictions when racing resumes.

Horse Racing Ireland had hoped to continue racing behind closed doors during the coronavirus crisis until the government ordered a shutdown earlier this week in line with Britain.

There were 10 meetings held in Ireland after Britain closed down and the HRI board has reviewed procedures with chief executive Brian Kavanagh saying those successful meetings may prove a help further down the line.

“We have run 10 race fixtures behind closed doors over the last two weeks through the diligence of key stakeholders in the industry,” Kavanagh said.

“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.

“The vital experience gained from staging these meetings behind closed doors may assist us to return racing as soon as possible.”

HRI chairman Nicky Hartery admitted the sport faced its greatest challenge and said the ruling body would do all it could to assist participants.

“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,” he said.

“We are very aware that the thousands of people in our industry are facing into a great deal of uncertainty over the coming weeks and months.

“Irish racing is a resilient sector, and we have come through previous challenges such as Foot and Mouth disease and Equine Influenza.

“We will continue our engagement with government around the supports that are available for the many people in our industry who have now lost their jobs and whose earning capacity has dramatically reduced.

“Racing and breeding supports almost 29,000 full time employees – mostly in rural Ireland – and a sustained period without racing impacts thousands of those jobs.

“When racing went behind closed doors, many staff including bookmakers, Tote staff, catering staff and other racecourse service providers stopped earning.

“As of yesterday’s stoppage, many others – including jockeys, trainers, stable staff, media and many other service providers – joined that list.”

 
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