Cork racecourse manager Andrew Horgan hopes that racing can resume at the Mallow track in July.
The facility, which is currently being used as an HSE Test Centre for Covid-19, is not included in the Horse Racing Ireland's revised racing schedule for June which was announced yesterday.
But Hogan revealed last night revealed that discussions between the HSE and HRI have been positive and could see the track continuing to act as a test centre whilst also welcoming the return of racing.
“At the moment, the HSE is doing the testing here, but the tracks have been maintained all the while and we are ready to race,” said Hogan.
“Obviously, we’re not going to kick out the HSE – as long as they need the racecourse as a testing centre, we’re going to work with them. They test around the back of the grandstand, at the front of the parade ring area. The parade ring itself has been cordoned off and they haven’t been near the pavilion either.
“While racing is going to be behind closed doors, we definitely think that the two could work together. If we were to race, we could easily cordon off those areas they have been using so no-one could go near them.
“Clearly, you couldn’t have testing on the same day as racing, but the HSE has been very accommodating with HRI’s fixture committee in respect to when we may be able to return. We’re not on the list for June, but we could be back pretty soon afterwards.
It’s still early days in discussions but we would be pretty hopeful that we would be in a good position to get back in July.
The racecourse, which is the only one in the country with a straight seven-furlong track, has already lost six days, including its lucrative three-day Easter festival, due to the lockdown and will have lost at least two more before it races again. The return, when it comes, will be a most welcome one, and Hogan reports the track to be in pristine condition.
HRI chiefs yesterday confirmed that Naas will host the first behind closed doors meeting, since the sport went into lockdown, on June 8th with National Hunt racing resuming at Limerick on June 22.
However HRI bosses said that the impact of the crisis means that “regrettably a number of prize money reductions will take immediate effect for June, with the possibility that further downward adjustments will be required through the rest of the year.”
The new proposed prize money for Group 1 races already closed, or about to close for entry, sees the Irish Derby and the Irish Champion Stakes both cut to €750,000 (by 50% and 40% from €1.5m and €1.25m respectively) with significant reductions to all other Group 1 races throughout the year.
The 2000 and 1000 Guineas will take place at the Curragh in the first week of action, with the 2000 Guineas on Friday June 12 and the 1000 Guineas on Saturday June 13. The Irish Derby retains its traditional date on Saturday, June 27, as does the Irish Oaks on Saturday, July 18.