The Board of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) met today and in response to the need to provide as much clarity as possible to the racing industry, in very uncertain times, the Board agreed it was prudent to bring the 2019/2020 National Hunt season to a close at this point. Plans were made to keep Ireland on a ‘racing ready’ footing
With the National Hunt season was formally ending Willie Mullins has been crowned champion trainer and Paul Townend champion jockey
Going forward the 2020 Fairyhouse Easter and Punchestown National Hunt Festivals will not be rescheduled. However they did agree to a significantly enhanced National Hunt programme in the October to December period with the Irish Grand National to be rearranged in this winter period.
The Board also discussed a strategy that would allow Irish racing to return as quickly as possible once it is appropriate to do so and within Government guidelines. The Board recognized that, at least initially, racing would restart on the Flat and most likely behind closed doors, with adherence to strict social distancing protocols as were successfully operated at ten race fixtures in March.
Nicky Hartery, Chairman of Horse Racing Ireland, said:
“We have stressed throughout that Government and HSE guidelines around fighting Covid-19 must come first and racing will only be able to resume when the Government guidelines permit and when there is adequate medical cover in place to ensure that race meetings can be staged safely. No-one can predict when this point will be reached.
He continued “What the Board agreed today was a plan to get back racing once those guidelines allow.”