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.
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..