Whispers on the breeze suggest the return of greyhound racing could be brought forward from its current June 29 date, and the Irish Greyhound Board says it is ready for such an eventuality.
It came as a surprise — and disappointment — that greyhound racing was not brought forward in line with horse racing, which resumes on Monday next having also previously been set for June 29, but Leo Varadkar left the door open for further conversation on the matter, and the IGB has taken him up on that offer.
“The Taoiseach offered, some weeks ago, for people to engage on the roadmap, if they so wished,” said ICB CEO Ger Dollard.
“We were disappointed when horse racing was brought forward to the eighth of June, that we weren’t brought forward also.
“We feel that we’re very low risk because we’re one person, one dog — it’s a very tight operation.
“We’ve done it before, we’ve run it well, and we’ve done a lot of work in the meantime to have further high-level of compliance with the Covid-19 protocols.”
While Dollard did not wish to forecast what might be brought forward by the government and the National Public Health Emergency Team as the country takes further steps out of lockdown, he gave assurance that trialling will recommence on Monday and thereafter the industry will be ready for racing action.
“We have made our submissions to the department and have been pushing it quite strongly,” he added.
“It is now down to the Government and NPHET to make the decisions.
“I can’t say what might or might not happen in that regard, but we are going back trialling on June 8 and certainly we will be ready to race a week or two after that if we get a green light.
“We have an online booking system for booking trials and we put it up last Friday (that trials would be returning June 8).
“In the next couple of hours we had over 700 trials booked. People are literally chomping at the bit to get back, and to give their greyhounds a run.
“Whatever happens, trialling is the first step, and at least we will be taking that first step on Monday.
“Whether the next step comes one week after, two weeks after or three weeks after, we’re ready and we’re prepared fot it.
“We have put our case forward, we think it’s a very strong case, the risk is very, very low, and we don’t see any reason why we couldn’t be back racing very quickly after June 8.”