The Board of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) in response to the need to provide as much clarity as possible to the racing industry agreed on Wednesday to close the 2019/2020 National Hunt season immediately, meaning the Fairyhouse Easter Festival and Punchestown Irish National Hunt Festival have both been cancelled and will not be rescheduled.
The Board recognised that once the Government’s restrictions have been lifted racing would restart on the Flat and most likely behind closed doors, with adherence to strict social distancing protocols as were successfully operated at ten race fixtures in March.
The Board also confirmed that an enhanced National Hunt programme from October to December 2020 will be revealed later this year and it is intended to include the 2020 BoyleSports Irish Grand National in that programme.
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland said:
“We are working on a range of industry supports which we hope to announce in the coming weeks. Once an achievable target resumption date can be identified, a new fixture list covering the rest of the year will be quickly published based on our on-going work, along with revised race programmes which will cater for the entire horse population.”
Mr Kavanagh continued:
“While the conclusion of the National Hunt season is a major blow for that sector and jump racing enthusiasts, in making an early decision we want to give as much certainty as possible to owners and trainers and this plan will allow winter National Hunt horses to take advantage of summer grass, reducing the costs for National Hunt owners, with the knowledge of an enhanced programme to come for them from the Autumn onwards, circumstances permitting.”