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..