The Association of Irish Racehorse Owners are calling for the immediate return of Owners to Irish Racetracks. It has been an unprecedented experience for owners since March 2020 having to watch their horses run whilst not being allowed to attend. Owners have been most understanding throughout the process that in the midst of a Worldwide pandemic every effort was made to ensure public health was protected and furthermore to ensure those who were allowed to race were kept as safe as possible. Owners are appreciative that racing was allowed to continue throughout much of the period.
At this time however AIRO are requesting that owners are allowed to return to racing with immediate effect. In September, for a brief period, owners were allowed to attend race meetings and from that experience we know how safe that it has already been. With Government currently considering return of indoor dining and indeed crowds being tested at sports events in the relatively near future we feel it is an appropriate time for owners to be allowed to return.
AIRO are calling on Horse Racing Ireland, the Dept of Agriculture and Racecourses to work together to facilitate this next step as matter of urgency. Owners in the UK have been racing for many weeks and we understand that there have been no issues emerging while France Galop have allowed 1000 people back to racing this week. AIRO feel that given where Ireland is currently placed in relation to Vaccinations, Case Numbers and indeed its success at protecting those who have attended race meetings that it is now time to allow owners to return to the racecourses and enjoy their horses running in a safe and controlled manner.
HRI have just announced that there will be 3 additional fixtures at:
Limerick - May 18th - (this will be an all Steeplechase card while Limerick’s scheduled meeting on Thursday 27 May will now become an all Hurdle/Bumper card)
Tipperary May 25th - (this will be an all Hurdle card)
Punchestown May 31st
The race programme details for these meetings, and any other related programming changes at other meetings, will be published on RAS in due course.
This is very welcome news and these fixtures will go a long way to help the current balloting issues being experienced by Owners. We have lobbied hard for additional fixtures and we will continue to monitor the situation very closely.
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.