AIRO would like to inform members that we are in constant contact with Horse Racing Ireland regarding owners returning to the track. We have been informed that HRI met the Minister and Department officials last week and the return of owners to the racecourse was among the agenda items discussed. The Minister is acutely aware of the importance of owners to our industry and specifically called out their patience and loyalty during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As the legislation currently stands, only essential workers necessary for the operation of a race-meeting are allowed on-course and unfortunately this does not include owners. This legislation will not be altered in the short-term and the best chance of getting owners (HRI’s priority) and racegoers back on track is a change to the public health guidance.
The Government announced last week that outdoor sports events will be looked at in June with a view to later in the year. Horse Racing Ireland will continue to make the point that racecourses are open, outdoor venues conducive to holding events in a safe manner and have also offered that horse racing will be available to take part in any outdoor trial events and we will continue to engage with the Minister to that end. We will continue to pursue this agenda and will keep owners informed.
AIRO were delighted to be able to sponsor the Winter Series in Dundalk awards once again for the 2020/21 season. The series was very well supported by trainers and owners and was highly competitive throughout. We sponsor two categories 'Horse with Most Points' and 'Horse with Most Wins' and we feel it is really important to recognise and support owners through our sponsorship
Horse with the Most Points Award
Winner: Sunset Nova Owner(s): Men of Forty Eight Syndicate
Trainer: Andrew Slattery
Sunset Nova has been a model of consistency for his owners throughout this season and was a clear winner in the horse with points winner on 42 points.
Horse with the Most Wins Award
Winner: Togoville Owner(s): Patrick J McCann
Trainer: Anthony McCann
This season, Togoville received legendary status at Dundalk. Not only did he win 3 times on the bounce, he set a record of 14 wins at Dundalk and connections announced his retirement at the awards meeting.
Recent weeks has seen an explosion of entries into National Hunt maiden hurdles and handicap hurdles. Owners are experiencing severe frustrations in attempts to get a run into their horses and we want to assure owners we are continually expressing those frustrations to Horse Racing Ireland.
There are many contributing factors including:
Fortunately there is some cause for optimism that the situation may well improve.
The re-scheduled meeting next Monday in Limerick (19th April) will comprise of 4 races 2 x Maiden Hurdles (one Mares) and 2 x H’cap Hurdles each of which will divide and hopefully go a little way to alleviate some of the backlog. The resumption of P2P’s will take some of the horses out of the system and we are also hoping that in the coming weeks 6YO+ P2P horses will return to the points circuit but want to assure you are we are monitoring this situation very closely. Winter horses traditionally end their season at this time of year leaving the path clear for summer horses and there can often be something of an increase in demand around April/May but this year with the additional issues referenced above it has become a more serious issue.
AIRO, through its representation both at HRI board level and on the NH programming committee continue to make representation to HRI in order to find ways to alleviate this issue on behalf of our members
What a race and what an unbelievable outcome for Irish National Hunt racing. Rachael Blackmore continued her good run of form to power home in the Randox Aintree Grand National at Aintree. She etched her name into racing folklore as the first lady rider to win this most famous race of all and has established herself as a role-model for every young aspiring jockey regardless of gender.
Huge congratulations are extended to owner JP McManus, his wife Noreen and their Family. It is very poignant that when National Hunt history was being made that his green and gold silks were involved considering the huge impact he has made on the sport both sides of the Irish sea. For Henry DeBromhead, I’m sure this dream season is one he never wants to wake up from and we are delighted for him and his team at Knockeen Stables in Co. Waterford.
Kevin Blake in his commentary on ITV steered viewers to a 50/1 bet for the first four home being Irish trained much to the bemusement of his fellow presenters and how right he was! Not only were first four home Irish trained but the first 5 and 9 out of the first 10 to finish the race. That is a remarkable achievement and we want to extend our heartiest congratulations to all connections.
Other Irish Winners at the festival included the following:
Grade 1 – Abacadabras – Gigginstown House Stud –Denise Foster
Grade 1 – Belfast Banter – Direct Bloodstock Ltd – Peter Fahey
Grade 1 – Fakir D’Oudairies – JP McManus – Joseph O’Brien
Grade 2 - Me Too Please – Mrs A L T Moore – Arthur Moore
Grade 3 – Livelovelaugh – Mrs S Ricci – W P Mullins
Grade 3 – Tronador – M J Wasylocha – Denise Foster
The scene that unfolded last week in Cheltenham was stuff of dreams. The Irish team was really strong but nobody could have predicted the level of success that we would attain. There were 23 Irish winners from a possible 28, 10 different Trainers, 13 different Jockey's and 20 different owners entering into the sacred winners enclosure namely:
Kenneth Alexander Honeysuckle & Telmesomethinggirl
R A Bartlett Galvin
Paul Byrne The Shunter
Cheveley Park Stud Sir Gerhard, Allaho & Quilixios
Direct Bloodstock Ltd Belfast Banter
Albert Dravins & Eamonn Scanlon Jeff Kidder
Flooring Porter Syndicate Flooring Porter
Mrs N Flynn Colreevy
Gigginstown House Stud Tiger Roll
Mrs H M Keaveney Vanillier
KTDA Racing Mount Ida
Barry Maloney Minella Indo
Miss M A Masterson Appreciate It
Maverton Ltd Mrs Milner
One for Luck Syndicate Put the Kettle On
Mrs S Ricci Monkfish
Robcour Bob Olinger
Mrs Audrey Turley Galopin Des Champs
John Turner Heaven Help Us
Caren Walsh & J Lightfoot Black Tears
Rachel Blackmore rode her way into the history books with a sensational display of horsemanship and every jockey interviewed was not only a credit to the industry but to the whole country. Given the difficulties with Brexit and Covid 19, Dr Jennifer Pugh and the team of HRI deserve huge credit for making a momentous task look seamless. The grooms and stable staff were as always top class and the camaraderie shown for each winner from the ‘Green Corner’ was just outstanding.
There were so many positives to pull from last week regarding Training, Riding, Owning, Point to Pointing and Breeding. It is imperative to congratulate HRI for all their efforts in producing programmes, opportunities and fixtures to prepare our horses to the highest possible standards. Lastly, huge congratulations to each and every Owner, roll on Fairyhouse, Aintree and Punchestown!!
HRI can today announce that it will be scheduling five additional National Hunt meetings in March in light of the continuing very high demand for opportunities to run in maiden hurdles and following the Government announcement of continued Level 5 restrictions earlier this week, which means that Point-to-Point racing will not resume until after April 5 at the earliest.
All five meetings will be run under the full Rules of Racing with standard broadcast coverage and integrity provision, including the comprehensive and strict HRI Racecourse Covid Protocols which continue to serve the industry so well in ensuring a safe environment for participants.
The five dates are as follows:
Friday March 5 Fairyhouse (inside track)
Monday March 15 Punchestown (inside track)
Saturday March 20 Wexford
Monday March 22 Navan
Wednesday March 24 Tipperary
The Fairyhouse and Navan fixtures will comprise largely maiden hurdles while subject to demand the fixtures at Punchestown, Wexford and Tipperary will be for horses eligible to run in Point-to-Points and holders of a Point to Point Handlers Permit may enter and run horses at these fixtures.
The race programme for the Fairyhouse card (March 5) will be published today, with four races initially programmed to allow for multiple divisions within an eight-race card.
The IHRB will be consulting with Point-to-Point handlers today to identify the most suitable races for the first meeting targeted at Point-to-Point horses at Punchestown on Monday 15 March, with the publication of a programme of races to quickly follow to assist with handlers’ preparations.
It is envisaged that this first Punchestown fixture will comprise an all-bumper card with a variety of distances and age/sex restrictions, with the future programmes being subject to the demands of the horse population. All bumpers targeted at Point-to-Point horses will be worth €8,000 each with standard prize money payments to the first six, and entries and declarations will be processed and published through Horse Racing Ireland as normal.
Horse Racing Ireland have announced a zero-tolerance regime enhanced with range of new measures
Mr Kavanagh was speaking at HRI’s announcement that new powers, new supports, and new funding will be deployed to ensure continuous improvement in the area of anti-doping. HRI will be working closely with all racing bodies to ensure that Ireland continues to operate to the best international standards.
The range of new measures reaffirms Horse Racing Ireland’s position in relation to drug testing within Irish horse racing and the wider thoroughbred industry. HRI also reaffirmed its commitment to resource and support an enhanced programme of anti-doping measures to ensure that Ireland operates to the best international standards.
New Powers of Access for Testing
Under new powers granted to the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, every thoroughbred in the country will in future be liable for testing without notice on both licensed (trainers) and unlicensed premises. These new powers of access conferred under Authorised Officer (AO) status will put the Irish regulatory regime on a par with the best in the world.
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said:
“We know from the number of tests performed each year, and from the variety of testing methods used, that Ireland has a robust system which operates at or above agreed global standards. Additionally, there is a stringent range of penalties that can be applied by the IHRB, which can go up to a lifetime ban for horses deliberately administered a substance prohibited at all times.
“In 2021, in excess of 4000 samples will be taken from racehorses in Ireland by the IHRB, and in the region of 25% will be out of competition tests or tests taken before horses come under the care of a licensed trainer. All samples are tested in an internationally accredited reference laboratory. In addition, approximately a further 600 samples will be taken from horses for sale at public auction.
“However, this is an area that we can never be complacent about and Horse Racing Ireland has been working with the IHRB to bring about further improvements to the systems this year. Our efforts and investment remain focused on ensuring that Ireland’s €2bn equine industry, an industry that employs thousands of people and encourages significant foreign direct investment, operates one of the most comprehensive systems of testing of any racing or breeding jurisdiction in the world. This is as it should be, given the importance of the industry and the value of trade in Irish horses.”
What a mouth-watering prospect we have in store this weekend at the Dublin Racing Festival in Leopardstown. It is jam packed with racing superstars with 8 grade 1 races over two days to entertain the masses. The standard of racing at this festival gets better each year and the array of top-class horses including Honeysuckle, Chacun Pour Soi, Monkfish, Minella Indo, the list just goes on and on!! Good luck to all the Owners..
Owned by the Slaneyville Syndicate, successful in the race a year ago with Total Recall, Acapella Bourgeois heads the weights for the Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase at Gowran Park on Thursday, January 28.
The 11-year-old was sixth in the race last year and most recently finished runner-up to Al Boum Photo at Tramore on New Year's Day. He is one of eight Willie Mullins-trained horses among an initial entry of 45 for the historic contest which will be televised live on RTE.
Mullins has also entered the Syndicates Racing-owned Munster National and Kerry National winner Cabaret Queen, last year’s second, Class Conti, recent hurdles’ winner Koshari and Brahma Bull as he seeks an eighth win in the race.
Monbeg Notorious gave Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy their first win in the Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase in 2018 and he’s among an Elliott-entry of 13. Milan Native, Aforementioned, Roaring Bull and Dounikos, all notable handicap chase winners for the Cullentra trainer, are also engaged as are the 2019 Thyestes runner-up Alpha Des Obeaux, recent Leopardstown third Farclas and the novices, Braeside and Coko Beach.
Last year’s third Minella Fair, former Troytown Chase winner Tout Est Permis and Dream Conti make up a strong entry for Noel Meade while also holding a definite chance is the Mags Mullins-trained Agusta Gold, a recent Grade 3 winner at Fairyhouse.
Niall Madden won the Thyestes Chase as an amateur rider on subsequent Aintree Grand National hero Numbersixvalverde in 2005 and the horse that gave him his final career winner, The Long Mile, successful in the Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Chase at Limerick, has been entered by trainer Philip Dempsey.
Other notable entries include Gearoid O’Loughlin’s Ulster National winner Space Cadet, Denis Hogan’s Moyhenna, the Ted Walsh-trained Any Second Now and the Pat Fahy-trained Dunvegan.
Eddie Scally, Manager of Gowran Park, said: “We are delighted to see such competitive entries listed for our Goffs Thyestes Chase and are really looking forward to the meeting now. This will be a Goffs Thyestes Day like no other as it will be behind closed doors, but we really hope people can enjoy the action from home with live coverage on both RTE and Racing TV.”
In line with the Government’s medium-term plan for Living with Covid-19, published earlier this week, Horse Racing Ireland today announced that from Monday next (September 21) owners will be welcomed back to Irish racecourses.
Government guidelines now permit racing and other outdoor events to have a limited number of spectators on the racecourse in addition to those necessary to stage the event. With owners a stated priority for HRI, the decision has been taken to allow two people per owner to attend from next week. Pre-meeting health screening and temperature checking will be required.
Further details will be issued to owners today relating to the specific protocols to be followed.
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “We are delighted to confirm that for the first time since March 13, owners will be permitted to return to the racecourse from Monday next. Owners play the most important role in Irish racing and they have had to wait quite some time to return to the racecourse to see their horses run. We have always said that getting owners back on the racecourse was our first priority and we have been working closely on this with the Association of Irish Racehorse Owners and their representative Caren Walsh.
“As all key personnel who have been racing behind closed doors since June 8 will testify, these are not race fixtures as we used to know them, and given the ongoing public health risk, it remains as important now as it ever has been, that all those attending racecourses adhere strictly to the race day protocols.
“Since we resumed racing in Ireland, the level of care and compliance with the Covid-19 protocols has been excellent and it is vital that everybody continues to comply with the rules on the racecourse around pre-health screening, social distancing and the wearing of face masks or coverings at all times.”