Hopes that live horse racing action in this country might return in the coming weeks may not have been entirely dashed by An Taoiseach’s address to the nation on Friday evening last, but those tens of thousands of people whose livelihoods, directly and indirectly, are dependent upon the sport returning were certainly none the wiser nor better off after the speech.
But that seemed to be a general consensus as the government gave the nation permission to take a tentative first step back towards normality.
France has been devastated by the death of almost 25,000 people from the virus, with a death rate per million of population almost one and a half times that which we are experiencing and, on Saturday last, the French government revealed that it would be extending, by two months, the health emergency imposed to fight Covid-19.
However, the country is also planning to take brave steps forward, one of which is expected to be the return of horse racing, behind closed doors, from Monday, May 11.
The restrictions which the country is still imposing on sport does not apply to racing, as it falls under the agriculture and finance ministries.
The go-ahead has been given by Parisian police for its return in the capital and the French racing authorities have in place an amended list of their classic and pattern races, as well as a list of those races which will not be accommodated this season.
Even if the final go-ahead is given for next Monday’s resumption, horses and jockeys based outside of the country will be prohibited from competing in France until the end of May, at the very least.
Racing, having taken place quite successfully behind closed doors in Ireland for ten meetings prior to the nation’s ‘lockdown’, ought to be towards the head of the list when such action resumes in Ireland, but when that will be remains to be seen.
Based on Friday’s oration, June 29 would seem to be the date. Confirmation awaits.