Keady Lady in action during the Fourth race at Kilbeggan Races .Photo Ann Hennessy

BREAKING: Earlier return of horse racing permitted

Horse racing is to return behind closed doors in Ireland on June 8.

The news emerged today ahead of the Government announcement on the first phase of the roadmap on Monday.

The chairperson of Kilbeggan Races, Senator Paul Daly, welcomed the news.

Senator Daly, who had written to the Minister for Health and the Taoiseach asking that they consider an earlier opening given the strict protocols Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) had put in place, said he was glad to see common sense prevail.

“When I wrote to the Minister and the Taoiseach, I asked that they show flexibility to organisations who can apply strict social distancing guidelines. I impressed on them the disadvantage it would have on the Irish racing industry to be behind the British and French markets in reopening.

“As the current Chairperson of Kilbeggan Races I know that the resumption behind closed doors will be in adherence with the strictest health and safety guidelines – it makes sense for it to reopen at this earlier stage,” he concluded.


Horse Racing Ireland explained that only key personnel necessary to run the fixture will be permitted to be on site where they will be subject to strict Covid-19 protocols. All those in attendance will be subject to health surveying in advance and thermal temperature screening on entry.

Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said:

“We are grateful to be one of the sectors permitted to go back to work and acknowledge the responsibility on everybody in racing to ensure the events are run in a safe way.

“We know from our own experience in March when we safely ran ten meetings behind closed doors – and from what is happening in other countries like France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and America – that racing can be staged safely within the requirements of social distancing.



1. Only key personnel will be permitted to attend race fixtures


2. All attendees will be subject to health screening in advance and thermal temperature screening on arrival – anyone presenting with elevated temperatures will be denied access and instructed to consult with their GP


3. Mandatory wearing of face coverings for many attendees including jockeys, stalls handlers, medical professionals, security staff, those working inside etc


4. Social distancing will be strictly enforced by a dedicated Covid-19 protocol officer at each fixture

Brian Kavanagh, said:

“We will publish our full protocols tomorrow and will require any key personnel necessary to run a race fixture to read the document in full. There must be full compliance with these protocols and to assist the industry in becoming familiar with the changed workplace, a series of webinars on the Covid 19 Protocols will be announced next week.

“On Sunday we will release a revised fixture list up to the end of June, including confirmation on when the Classics, traditionally scheduled for this time of year, will be run.”

Racing restarted behind closed doors in Germany on May 7 and in France on May 11, while in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong the industry continued operating behind closed doors. In Britain, the British Horseracing Authority plans to resume racing on June 1.

Brian Kavanagh said:  “These will not be race meetings as you might traditionally imagine them, rather stripped back events which will determine the best horses in various categories, a vital factor for the breeding industry. Attendance will be kept to an absolute minimum and Covid-19 protocols will be strictly enforced.”


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