Horse Racing Ireland have this afternoon announced five additional National Hunt meetings in March
The move is in response to the increased demand for opportunities to run in maiden hurdles as a result of the continued pause on point-to-point racing under Level 5 restrictions.
The five dates are as follows: Friday, March 5: Fairyhouse (inside track); Monday, March 15: Punchestown (inside track); Saturday, March 20: Wexford; Monday, March 22: Navan and Wednesday, March 24: Tipperary.
The Fairyhouse and Navan fixtures will comprise largely maiden hurdles while subject to demand the fixtures at Punchestown, Wexford and Tipperary will be for horses eligible to run in point-to-points and holders of a point to point handlers' permit may enter and run horses at these fixtures.
Further details on the races in question will be confirmed in the coming weeks.
All bumpers targeted at point-to-point horses will be worth €8,000 each with standard prize money payments to the first six, and entries and declarations will be processed and published through Horse Racing Ireland as normal.
HRI CEO Brian Kavanagh said: “Tuesday’s announcement of a continuation of Level 5 restrictions means that point-to-point racing has not been able to resume yet in 2021, and Horse Racing Ireland is very aware of the pressures being felt by those in the point-to-point community. Working closely with the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee, the IHRB and racecourses, HRI has acted to ensure that some opportunities are available in the coming weeks. We very much hope that the national Covid picture improves sufficiently to allow Point-to-Point racing to resume fully post April 5 because of the vital role it plays in National Hunt racing and its importance to the rural economy.”
Paul Murtagh, Registrar, INHS Committee, said: “It has been a frustrating beginning to 2021 for the point-to-point community and while the only way to fully ease the pressure on the system will be a full resumption of the point-to-point season, these five extra fixtures are hugely welcomed. I would encourage all handlers to respond quickly to the consultative email we are sending out today so that we can get the most accurate picture of where demands most lie and create a race programme that best suits handlers’ needs.”