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D-Day as HRI meeting could cancel Irish racing


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HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh. Photo: Caroline Norris

HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh. Photo: Caroline Norris

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HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh. Photo: Caroline Norris

It's D-Day for Irish racing as Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) chiefs will today decide whether action will continue behind closed doors.

With the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) cancelling all racing in the UK until May at the earliest, the same could happen in Ireland when the HRI have a board meeting through a conference call this afternoon (1.0).

It is not an emergency meeting based on the BHA decision, however, with HRI chief Brian Kavanagh already set to lead a review of the five Irish fixtures which have taken place behind closed doors since last Friday and assess whether such scenarios are feasible going forward.

Kavanagh insists that "the objective is to continue racing if at all possible" and that no decision has yet been made on whether the Irish Grand National (April 13) or the Punchestown Festival (April 28-May 2) will go ahead.

"We'll take stock of everything, we'll review the five fixtures which have already been held behind closed doors and see if it's working. It is a day-by-day operation. The objective is to continue racing if at all possible," said Kavanagh.

"We've had encouragement to do that from the Government. We are conscious that jobs are being lost left, right and centre and we want to do everything possible to prevent that. Safety and health simply have to come first, though.

"There's no playbook for this sort of situation, these are unprecedented circumstances. We are dealing with a lot of speculation, but we'll take stock of everything."

Across the water, a decision on the destiny of this year's National Hunt Championships will be made in "due course" following the cancellation of racing in Britain, the BHA said yesterday.

The champion jockey, trainer and owner are usually crowned on the final day of the jumps season at Sandown, which was this year scheduled to take place on April 25.

Following the conclusion of racing on Tuesday, Armagh native Brian Hughes held a 19-winner lead over four-time champion Richard Johnson in this year's jockeys' title while Nicky Henderson leads Paul Nicholls by almost £200,000 (€220,000) in the trainers' title.

Irish Independent