Point-to-point racing to return on April 10th

Grassroots arm of racing to resume in a limited format next month

Point-to-point racing has been given the green light to resume in a restricted format from April 10th.

It is understood only races for four and five year old horses will be allowed take place behind closed doors at venues approved by Horse Racing Ireland during April and May.

Sources said the move has been taken after consultation between HRI, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Taoiseach.

The grassroots arm of the racing industry has been suspended since January under current Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.


Unlike racing, which has continued behind closed doors, point-to-points were not included in the category of professional and elite sports permitted to take place.

However, the government decided on Tuesday, on the back of latest advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team, that the sector can resume in a limited format next month.

Sources told the Irish Times the decision to restrict races to four and five year olds was made because they are the most valuable prospects and need to be sold to prospective buyers as soon as possible.

There had been increasing calls for the sector to resume in recent weeks, boosted by results at the Cheltenham festival where 13 winners were products of the point-to-point fields in Ireland.

They included the Gold Cup winner Minella Indo and Honeysuckle who was victorious in the Champion Hurdle.

There had been growing pressure for a resumption in April with concerns about ground conditions getting too quick to risk valuable young horses on as summer got closer.

Without those animals getting the chance to race in front of potential buyers, there were fears that their trainers and owners wouldn’t be able to sell them on and as a consequence not have a chance to reinvest in younger stock later this year.

It was in that context it was described as “crucially important” that point-to-points resume in a limited format through April and May.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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