Racehorse owners will have to wait a little longer to see their horses strut their stuff due to the Government's decision to delay phase four of the roadmap to reopen Ireland.
It had been hoped owners could return to the racetrack from next Monday but Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) have now confirmed that this will not now be possible.
With only key personnel allowed onto the racecourse during behind closed doors meetings, racehorse owners have not been permitted on track since the Covid-19 lockdown in March.
It had been hoped that under phase four of the roadmap, which allows for outdoor gatherings of up to 500 people, that owners would be welcomed back to Irish racecourses but that ambition will now be delayed a further three weeks until August 10, a timeframe that includes the Galway Races which begins on July 27.
“Since we resumed racing in Ireland on June 8 Horse Racing Ireland has kept tandem with the Government’s movement on the roadmap for reopening of society and business, and will continue to do so," HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh said.
“The decision taken by the Cabinet to defer phase four of the roadmap means we will also, regrettably, have to defer our ambition to welcome owners back to the racecourse from July 20.
"I understand how disappointing this will be for owners who remain our first priority to return to the racecourse once restrictions are eased.
“Plans were well advanced for this to happen from Monday next at Ballinrobe and Gowran Park, and a number of owners had already completed their online medical screening.
"However, until the number permitted at outdoor gatherings is increased by the Government to 500, only key personnel necessary to run a race meeting will be permitted on site.
“The level of compliance with the Covid-19 protocols since June 8 has been excellent and is appreciated by the Covid-19 teams in Horse Racing Ireland and the IHRB (Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board).
“It is these protocols that ensure that we are able to continue to race so it is very important that everybody continues to comply with the rules on the racecourse around social distancing and face masks, and the requirements around pre-health screening.”