National Hunt season over as Fairyhouse and Punchestown Festivals cancelled

National Hunt season over as Fairyhouse and Punchestown Festivals cancelled

Horse Racing Ireland has announced the 2019/2020 National Hunt season has come to a close following the suspension of racing in Ireland and that the Fairyhouse and Punchestown Festivals will not be rescheduled.

The Government last month announced the cancellation of all sporting events due to the coronavirus outbreak, including those behind closed doors, until at least April 19.

At a meeting of the HRI board on Wednesday, a strategy was discussed that would allow racing to return as quickly as possible once it is appropriate to do so and within Government guidelines.

The board said it recognised that, at least initially, racing would restart on the Flat and most likely behind closed doors, with adherence to strict social distancing protocols as were successfully operated at 10 race fixtures in March.

Nicky Hartery, chairman of HRI, said: “We have stressed throughout that Government and HSE guidelines around fighting Covid-19 must come first and racing will only be able to resume when the Government guidelines permit and when there is adequate medical cover in place to ensure that race meetings can be staged safely. No-one can predict when this point will be reached.

“What the Board agreed today was a plan to get back racing once those guidelines allow.”

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