EletiofeIrish racing to resume on 8 June at Naas...

Irish racing to resume on 8 June at Naas with its Classics quick to follow

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Irish racing will resume at Naas on 8 June while the Irish 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas, the country’s first Classics in 2020, will be staged at The Curragh on 12-13 June, Horse Racing Ireland said on Sunday. The Irish Derby, meanwhile, will remain in its traditional slot on the last weekend in June, leaving little chance that horses will be able to line up for both the Irish Derby and the Derby at Epsom, which is provisionally scheduled for 4 July.

Like the Irish Derby, the Irish Oaks (18 July) and Irish Champions weekend (12-13 September) also remain on their original dates, while Horse Racing Ireland’s plans to restart the industry after nearly three months of lockdown also include a return of jumps racing on 22 June. This is earlier than envisaged under a previous schedule, which proposed racing only on the Flat for a month after resumption.

Runners from abroad will be allowed to contest Irish Group One and Group Two races only during June, but any stable staff travelling with them will be subject to an Irish government rule that anyone arriving in the country by air or sea must self-isolate for two weeks after arrival. This could, for practical purposes, rule out international participation in the Irish Classics, although the government rule does not apply to arrivals from Northern Ireland, which is linked to the British mainland by ferry.

While Irish racing will be delighted to have a date for a restart, however, prize funds will be significantly reduced over the coming months, with the most prestigious events seeing the biggest cuts. Both the Irish Derby and Irish Champion Stakes will be run with a prize pool of €750,000 (£659,000), a cut of 50% from €1.5m for the Derby and 40% from €1.25m for the Champion Stakes. The €10,000 minimum value for any race will drop by 10%, while cuts at other levels range from 10% to 25%.

All meetings will be run under protocols published on Saturday to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including health screening 24 hours beforehand and on-site temperature checks for all participants and officials before being allowed entry to the course. As racecourse saunas remain out of bounds, the weights for all races will be raised by 2lb.

The revised Irish fixture list to the end of June has only one blank day – 16 June – and 28 meetings, including four over jumps. Meetings will have eight races wherever possible, and a general maximum limit of 18 runners per race.

“We expect there to be significant demand for horses to run once we resume,” Brian Kavanagh, the chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said, “and we will aim to provide some opportunities across the spectrum of age, gender and ability. We will have missed 11 weeks’ racing, which will take some time to catch up. We intend to do this over the course of the rest of the year, rather than immediately.”

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