Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has given racetracks around the country permission to host crowds of up to 500 people, including racecourse members and general spectators, at events.
Following the government’s decision to expand the capacity limitations for outdoor meetings from 200 to 500 people, the Irish horse racing authority acknowledged to the Racing Post that it is ultimately up to individual racecourses to establish capacity limits.
Brain Kavanagh, HRI Chief Executive said: “It’s up to the racecourses and this will allow them a little more flexibility.
The 200 has been adequate for owners, sponsors and racecourse needs, but the additional 300 is now a matter for each individual racecourse as to how they want to approach it.”
“We’ll continue to operate the protocols but will tweak them in certain areas. I think we’ll be looking to get some owners into the parade ring before races.
“As numbers going to the track increase, the temperature checking on the way in becomes more challenging – unless you’ve got multiple entrances like they had at the Curragh last weekend – but this is a positive step.”
Spectators and racecourse members
Since 7 June, racehorse owners have been allowed to attend fixtures as long as the overall number of attendance does not exceed 200, but under the latest government proposals, only a limited number of spectators and racecourse members will be allowed to attend.
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at Curragh racecourse, on the other hand, was limited to 1,000 spectators as a pilot test event.
Because of the success of this event, the management of Galway’s Ballybrit Racecourse has announced plans to open its doors to 5,000 spectators for the upcoming seven-day Galway Races festival. However, the racecourse’s Manager, Michael Maloney, admits that “there’s a long way to go to get it over the line.”
Kavanagh did mention the Curragh event, however he did not remark on the projected Galway plans. “It was clear at the Curragh on Saturday that more people could have fitted in there safely without having any impact [on adhering to protocols], he said. “We recognise that it’s a graduated progress and that it’s a matter for government to dictate.”
He added: “The view, as we were told, was to run the trial, then review how it goes. We’ve submitted our review of that trial and have sought similar trials, maybe with a few more people, at some further meetings. That’s in the system.”