A review at the end of April led to an extension of point-to-point racing to 18 additional events.
Point-to-point is the nursery for the top Irish jump horses, which showed their world class superiority by winning 23 of the 28 races at the Cheltenham festival this year, and seven of the 21 races at the world-famous Aintree Grand National meeting.
Of the 28 winners at Cheltenham, no fewer than 13 began their careers in Irish point-to-points, along with 16 of the placed horses.
Six were sold for six-figure sums after winning an Irish point-to-point race.
However, there’s a danger of missing out on the next crop of Irish point-to-point graduates, because point-to-point racing was suspended on January 13 as part of the government’s Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions - although other horse racing continued behind closed doors.
This left trainers unable to run horses in the races for which they were bought, and subsequently unable to bring their stock to market.
Instead of prices reaching new heights on the back of 13 point-to-pointer wins at Cheltenham, a backlog of untested horses built up in point-to-point handlers’ yards.
Following the Government decision to ease certain COVID-19 related restrictions, a phased and limited reintroduction of point-to-point racing began on April 10.
Since then, the end of April reprieve is expected to allow point-to-point racing take place at 10 remaining fixtures before the point-to-point season will conclude at the end of May.
There were also fixtures last weekend at Broughshane, Co Antrim; Tattersalls, Co Meath; and Dromahane, Co Cork.
The annual two-day Necarne races in Co Fermanagh take place this Friday and Saturday, and the Ballindenisk, Co Cork and Stradbally, Co Laois fixtures take place next Sunday.
Punchestown, Co Kildare is the venue on Saturday, May 22, followed by Tralee, Co Kerry on Sunday, May 23.
On the same weekend, the Ballingarry, Co Tipperary meeting is on Saturday and Sunday.
The season comes to a close on the weekend of May 29 and 30 with the North Down fixture at Kirkistown and the Kilkenny meeting at Grennan.
All meetings will be subject to strict Covid-19 protocols and only essential staff will be permitted entry, on production of a valid barcode.
Only one groom per horse plus the handler or representative will be allowed access, and this will be strictly enforced, with no owners, spectators or children permitted.
Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) and the Irish Horse Regulatory Board (IHRB) are tasked with ensuring that these fixtures are staged in a controlled manner, based on the health and safety protocols which have been applied effectively at other behind-closed-doors race meetings.