Two more horse racing events go behind closed doors

Pictured above: Poker Party and Rachael Blackmore after winning the 2019 Guinness Kerry National. The 2020 Listowel Harvest Festival will take place behind closed doors from September 20-26.

This year's Listowel Harvest racing festival and the Longines Irish Champions Weekend will both take place behind closed doors.

The seven-day Listowel festival, featuring the Guinness Kerry National, takes place from Sunday, September 20 to Saturday, September 26.

Pat Healy, Chairman of Listowel Race Company, said: “In these unprecedented times, and in line with Government guidelines, the Listowel Race Company has made the extremely difficult decision to race behind closed doors, this means the event will not be open to the general public this year. The health and safety of everyone is our number one priority and with crowd restrictions in place, it would be very difficult for us to run the festival, as it attracts significant numbers of visitors to Listowel each year.

“Making the announcement now, gives all of our valued patrons notice, with regard to travel plans and accommodation bookings. We would hope that the flavour of the Harvest Festival will still be in the town and that our local shops will continue to decorate their windows with a racing theme."

Customers who have already paid for admission tickets will receive a full refund. More information is available at www.listowelraces.ie

Meanwhile, the Longines Irish Champions Weekend Committee has today confirmed that September’s Longines Irish Champions Weekend will also take place behind closed doors.

The Committee’s recommendation, made in light of the current uncertainty around Covid-19, has been approved by the Board of Horse Racing Ireland.

This year Longines Irish Champions Weekend takes place at Leopardstown on September 12 - featuring the Irish Champion Stakes and the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes - and The Curragh on September 13, with four Group 1 races.

Paul Dermody, Chief Executive of HRI Racecourses, said: “With less than eight weeks to go before Longines Irish Champions Weekend, it was the Committee’s view that this was the optimum time to give people certainty. It is a great shame that our feature weekend of Flat racing will not be enjoyed by racegoers in person this September, but we will ensure a warm welcome for everybody when they return next year. In the meantime, we will be refunding all of those who availed of early-bird and advance ticket offers.”

Harry McCalmont, Chairman of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend Committee, stated: “We had dearly hoped that circumstances would allow us have racegoers back on the racecourse for Longines Irish Champions Weekend but that doesn’t look at all likely so it is best to make a call on it now. It is a great pity, but we still have a wonderful weekend of racing to look forward to."

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