HRI permits Irish racecourses to increase capacity to 500

By | July 1, 2021

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has permitted race tracks across the country to allow crowds of up to 500 to attend fixtures, including racecourse members and general spectators.

As reported by the Racing Post, the Irish horse racing authority has confirmed that it is ultimately the decision of individual racecourses to decide capacity limits, following the decision by the government to increase the capacity limits for outdoor gatherings from 200 people to 500.

“It’s up to the racecourses and this will allow them a little more flexibility,” said Brain Kavanagh, HRI Chief Executive. “The 200 has been adequate for owners, sponsors and racecourse needs, but the additional 300 is now a matter for each individual racecourse as to how they want to approach it.”

“We’ll continue to operate the protocols but will tweak them in certain areas. I think we’ll be looking to get some owners into the parade ring before races.

“As numbers going to the track increase, the temperature checking on the way in becomes more challenging – unless you’ve got multiple entrances like they had at the Curragh last weekend – but this is a positive step.”

Racehorse owners have been permitted to attend fixtures since 7 June as long as the total number of attendees fell below the 200 mark, but under the new government proposals limited numbers of spectators as well as racecourse members could also attend.

However, a crowd of 1,000 was allowed for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at Curragh racecourse, with the fixture functioning as a pilot test event.

The success of this event led to the management of Galway’s Ballybrit Racecourse to announce plans to open its doors to 5,000 spectators to attend the upcoming seven-day Galway Races festival, the racecourse’s Manager, Michael Maloney, admitted ‘there’s a long way to go to get it over the line’.

Although he did not comment on the proposed Galway plans, Kavanagh did reference the Curragh event, saying: “It was clear at the Curragh on Saturday that more people could have fitted in there safely without having any impact [on adhering to protocols]. We recognise that it’s a graduated progress and that it’s a matter for government to dictate.”

He added: “The view, as we were told, was to run the trial, then review how it goes. We’ve submitted our review of that trial and have sought similar trials, maybe with a few more people, at some further meetings. That’s in the system.”

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