AIRO board of directors met for a one-item agenda meeting on Thursday 22nd July, 2021 to discuss the issues raised in the BBC Panorama documentary aired on the previous Monday night. There was universal condemnation across the board for the abhorrent scenes witnessed during the programme.
UK authorities and HRI have indicated that they would support a full investigation into the practices shown at the abattoir and AIRO will advise members of any relevant updates. It was also noted during the meeting that Brexit has effectively removed the likelihood of any Irish based horses being exported for this purpose in the future. In relation to the microchip issue, AIRO understand that HRI together with An Gardai Siochanna have issued an investigation into this matter and again we will keep members informed with any outcomes.
Caren Walsh, AIRO director and HRI Representative received a vote of confidence at the meeting from her fellow directors. It was noted that Mrs Walsh has continually proven herself to be a loyal and committed racehorse owner, a huge advocate of horse welfare and a dedicated representative for owners at all levels.
AIRO are extremely aware of the responsibilities of owners in respect of welfare and the after racing care of horses. We are currently working on a proposal for a funding mechanism to help owners with rehoming and retraining of horses and are developing our website to include a section on aftercare to further assist them.
Further to the BBC panorama documentary ‘The Dark Side of Horse Racing’ aired on Monday evening, the AIRO would like to acknowledge the wonderful care and attention that is given to Thoroughbreds throughout the country. The vast majority of horses are afforded the highest levels of care and attention owing to the skill and empathy of many Irish trainers, stable staff and additional support professionals such as farriers, vets, physios and beyond. Furthermore, this care extends from birth far beyond the animals racing career and this is something we are proud of as an industry.
The AIRO were shocked, upset and disappointed at some of the content of the recent BBC Panorama documentary and wish to advise its members that the Board of Directors intend to discuss the issues in the programme as a matter of priority. There were many distressing images shown from the UK abattoir and practices such as those do not show an appropriate level of respect and care for the animal and is condemned by the AIRO.
Horse Racing Ireland have called on the relevant UK authorities to make a full investigation into these malpractices which we fully support.
We are delighted to announce, from the 6th of July, all owners will be permitted to return racing the day their horses runs. Owners and guests should continue to follow Government and HSE guidelines along with HRI Covid-19 protocols.
All owners will need valid AIR cards and a Health Screening Barcode to gain racecourse entry.
Ticketing has reverted to the pre-covid structure. Please visit the HRI website (www.racehorseownership.ie/tickets) for the owner ticket allocation details and procedures on how to request additional tickets.
All owners should hold valid AIR cards and request additional guest admission through the ownership website. Please note the ticketing deadlines.
For AIR queries or to arrange replacement cards please contact the AIR on 01 676 0911.
For details of the owner and guest ticket allocation, request extra tickets and to familiarise yourself with the relevant deadlines visit www.racehorseownership.ie/tickets/ .
Important! Health Screening Registration
Race Day Access
Valerie Keatley, Head Girl for trainer Johnny Murtagh was announced as the Irish Racing Excellence Award winner at the 2021 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards today.
Valerie, who also won the Leadership Award for Stable Employees and was among eight individual category winners, was selected by the judging committee for the highest accolade.
Valerie joined Johnny Murtagh’s not long after he set up his training business and Johnny credits her contribution as one of the reasons why the yard has performed consistently on an upward curve over the last number of years.
Other Award Winners included:
Helen O’Sullivan Career Coach at the Irish Jockeys’ Trust in County Kildare won the Racing & Breeding Support Services Award.
Anne O’Connor, Racing Secretary for Michael Halford won the Administration Award
The Newcomer Award went to Keith Lynam, Stud Groom at Ringfort Stud in County Offaly.
The Horse Care Award went to Emmett Raher, Head Lad for Henry de Bromhead in County Waterford.
The In The Saddle Award, one of the most competitive awards, went to David Glennon, Stable Lad for Dermot Weld on the Curragh.
Caroline Hannon, Manager at Newtown Stud in Naas, County Kildare won the Leadership Award for stud employees.
The Dedication to Racing Award winner was Ger Brabston, Horsebox Driver for Derrinstown Stud in Maynooth, County Kildare.
The Irish Stablestaff Association chose Tramore Racecourse for the Racecourse Award
A Special Recognition Award was presented to Dr Jennifer Pugh, Senior Medical officer with the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board to acknowledge the extraordinary support she and her team provided to the Irish stud and stable staff during both the suspension of racing and since its resumption under restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
AIRO are delighted to confirm, from Monday 21st of June, 4 owners per horse will be permitted to attend a race meeting when their horse runs.
All race day attendees should follow government and HSE guidelines.
Owners need to pre- register on the IHRB screening website and apply for race day access each time they have a runner. All registration details can be found on www.racehorseownership.ie/bcd
An EGM of AIRO Racing CLG took place last night via Zoom Webinar at the ITBA HQ to count all votes on a special resolution that was circulated to members by notice dated 10th May, 2021.
The board are delighted to confirm that the special resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority vote of 91% in favour of the resolution and the constitution of AIRO Racing CLG is hereby approved and ratified.
We would like to thank all members for their involvement in this process.
AIRO were delighted with the announcement last Friday that Owners were given the green light to return racing. It was just rewards for owners who have been steadfast in their support of Irish racing and the tireless efforts of our HRI Rep Caren Walsh and the office at AIRO who fought hard on your behalf.
We were given a list of HRI protocols and will outline below the various steps to make your return to the racetrack as seamless as possible. Owners must register on the IHRB screening website and apply for race day access each time they have a runner. Please note if you registered with the IHRB to attend a race meeting in 2020 your registration will still be valid.
All owners must register with IHRB to gain admission:
First Time Registration
• If you have a smart phone, download the IHRB Health Screening app – IHRB Racecourse Access Pass – and hit Register button. If you do not have a smart phone the screening can also carried out through their website www.medical-ihrb.com.
• You will be required to provide contact details, upload a passport type photograph, and complete a short medical questionnaire. Please note each attendee (e.g. fellow owner, syndicate member, wife, husband etc.) must complete the online health screening and use their own mobile number and email address, the same number or email address cannot be registered twice.
• Once registration has been completed successfully a message saying your application is in review will appear. You do not need to do anything else at this stage, your barcode for racing will be sent to the App and your email once approved.
Please note: first time registration will allow you access to racing the next day. If you are registering in advance, please ignore barcode received and apply as usual the day before you are due to go racing.
Daily Race Day Application
If registered already owners can use the app IHRB Racecourse Access Pass to register for a race day pass. In order to receive a barcode for racing:
• Owners must apply by 11pm the previous day. After answering all the relevant questions, your status will be ‘in review’ or ‘pending’ which means the application was successful and you will receive a code in time for racing once approved.
• Two admissions per horse will be permitted, for example if you have two runners four people can attend. Children can attend but will count towards the total admission per owner
• All attendees will be required, without exception, to complete the online health screening.
The Barcodes will be sent by email to the registered email address and to your Racecourse Access Pass app on completion of the health screening questionnaire.
Race Day Expectations
Owners should be cognisant that the race day experience will be vastly different from what they are used to with many restrictions as all attendees must comply with Government and HSE Guidelines and HRI Protocols.
• Owners must bring along their unique barcode with AIR Card and Photo ID to the race meeting and will be subject to a thermal screening on arrival.
• Social Distance (2 Metres) & face coverings will apply for all attendees
• There will be no indoor access for owners
• There will be a designated briefing area for your trainer/jockey to meet you outside the parade ring before and after your race, please note the jockey may be required to weigh in first and return for consultation.
• Winning owners are allowed to access the parade ring to welcome their horse back to the winning enclosure and for the presentation.
• Outdoor refreshments will be available and owners are welcome to stay on course for the duration of the day
There is a help desk available for owners support to answer any questions you may have on 045 455601. It is open from Mon – Fri from 10am to 4pm and on Weekends and Bank Holidays from 10am to 1pm.
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.