No date on Irish racing crowds as punters return elsewhere

Races remain behind closed doors as Goodwood plans pilot event with 5,000 crowd

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is refusing to put any date on when the public could be allowed to go racing again, describing the situation as largely out of their hands.

Despite new fears of a second wave of coronavirus on the continent, crowds of up to 5,000 people are allowed attend sports stadia in France, including racecourses.

Next Saturday a crowd of up to 5,000 is expected at the final day of the Goodwood festival as part of a series of pilot events to see if spectators can return to sporting events in England by the start of October.

It is dangerous comparing one country with another because there are different circumstances

Earlier this week HRI confirmed that both Irish Champions Weekend and the seven-day Listowel festival will take place behind closed doors in September.


Ahead of next week's Galway festival, also taking place behind closed doors, the industry here is awaiting confirmation if owners will be allowed go racing again from August 10th under Government plans to increase the size of gatherings to just 500.

No indication

However there is no indication as to when racegoers will be allowed enter racetracks.

"I wouldn't put a date on it. It is dangerous comparing one country with another because there are different circumstances and different approaches being taken," HRI's chief executive Brian Kavanagh said.

“We will watch with interest what goes on at that trial in Goodwood. We are keen to get people back on the racecourse, obviously, but only when it is safe to do so and deemed safe to do so.

“We will work on it over the coming weeks in terms of putting in protocols, but it is largely out of our hands,” he added.

Kavanagh said the priority is to find a safe way of allowing people to return to racecourses.

“One of the pleasures of racing is that people move around. They go from parade ring to bookmakers to the stands, a bar or restaurant, whereas for a match you sit in the same seat for the duration and that can be distanced.

“That’s the main issue and work has started on it. But I’m definitely not putting a date on it,” he said.

Racing resumed behind closed doors in Ireland on June 8th.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column