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Confusion still surrounds date when racing is likely to resume

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HRI CEO Brian Kavanagh. Photo: Don MacMonagle

HRI CEO Brian Kavanagh. Photo: Don MacMonagle

HRI CEO Brian Kavanagh. Photo: Don MacMonagle

French racing will resume behind closed doors next Monday, but the Irish picture is still mired in confusion with Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) no clearer on where they stand in relation to a resumption date.

Clarification was being sought by HRI chiefs on Saturday regarding racing's place in the Government's five-phase plan to ease lockdown restrictions following Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's address last Friday.

Answers have been in short supply in the interim and those within the industry are getting aggravated at the possibility of racing not returning until phase three of the plan - which allows sport "behind closed doors" to commence - begins on June 29.

Outdoor activities like golf and tennis will be permitted in some form from May 18, but it is unclear where racing stands in the grand scheme of things despite falling under the Department of Agriculture's remit.

Criteria It is hoped that HRI can meet the criteria required to return on May 18 having had ten successful behind-closed-doors meetings in March - the last of which was a jumps card on March 24 at Clonmel - but progress seems to have stalled with Varadkar's announcement seemingly taking them by surprise.

HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh has stated that they are "racing ready" when Government approval is granted, while the resumption of racing in France should be seen as a positive for Ireland given that it also comes under their agriculture brief.

The €2 billion industry would be decimated if racing is delayed until June 29, so the next couple of days are crucial for the HRI and key to the short-term future of Irish racing.

French action will resume without spectators next Monday at Longchamp as Paris police gave the green light, for action to restart, something France Galop president Edouard de Rothschild declared as "great news and a real victory!"

Irish Independent