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RacingBetter News
Saturday 21st March 2020
Ireland is Racing On - and Some Other World Locations

England threw the towel in on March 17th, but the Irish have decided to clench their teeth and try to keep up racing behind closed doors. Good news for you, if your appetite for a good wager is still lively. Have a look at what is available on , keeping your eyes focused on St. Patrick's island.

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The all-weather Flat meeting at Dundalk was switched from the evening to the afternoon, as a first measure. The maximum allowed from now on is one meeting per day. Forget about evening meetings. The owners have to stay away from the racetracks, and no runners from overseas will be able to compete. The pauses between racese are set at 30 minutes, to make social distancing possible.

Horse Racing Ireland is well aware that the situation is exceptional. “These are unprecedented and sombre times,” chairman Nicky Hartery said on March 18th, “and we are seeking the best ways to support the racing community and industry throughout what lies ahead".  Health and welfare of employees and industry participants is the prime consideration, according to Hartery. Protocols have been introduced to allow racing to continue and thousands of families who rely on the sector to maintain a livelihood. The situation is subject to review on a daily basis. Fixtures could be reprogrammed according to needed changes. ITV has agreed to broadcast five races from Thurles, with a show scheduled on ITV4 from 1:30-4pm. Anchor Ed Chamberlin will present and the production will happen in the UK with the “smallest possible team”.

The British Horseracing Authority had to give up a similar attempt of racing without spectators, following the changes in the government plans announced on March 16th. A strong recommendation to push the avoidance of social contact and the withdrawal of medical support from mass gatherings suggested the BHA to abandon the idea of continuing with racing behind closed doors. Only two meetings scheduled for Taunton and Wetherby took place as planned, with no spectators present, and with private ambulances to provide medical support. After that, the British horserace went into a lockdown that is initially planned to last until the end of April.

BHA chief executive Nick Rust commented: “This is a national emergency the like of which most of us have never seen before. We are a sport that is proud of its connection to rural communities and to the local businesses that support our industry. But our first duty is to the health of the public, our customers and to racing industry participants and staff, so we have decided to suspend racing following the government’s latest advice.”

Life is going on in the horseracing world, despite the UK enforced pause. Ireland is not the only one holding the fort. The Hong Kong Derby is going ahead as planned, on March 21st. The $35 million Dubai World Cup is coming up, although behind closed doors, on March 28. In the US, while Aqueduct has closed, the Kentucky Derby trail is in full swing with the Louisiana Derby coming up on the March 21st weekend and the Florida Derby at Gulfstream park right behind it.

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