Racing to continue behind closed doors in Ireland

Racing in Ireland will continue behind closed doors following an extension of coronavirus restrictions announced by the Irish Government on Wednesday.

The Irish Government website confirmed professional, elite sports, horse racing, greyhound racing and approved equestrian events only are permitted to continue behind closed doors. No other matches or events are to take place.

Racing has been staged without spectators since it returned in Ireland on June 8 following the Covid-19 lockdown, with limited numbers of owners making only a brief return to the course in September before they were again excluded under strict protocols.

Meanwhile, it has been agreed that the ban on UK travel should continue until midnight on Friday evening. Trainer Gordon Elliott has two horses – Quilixios and Duffle Coat – entered for the Grade One Finale Hurdle at Chepstow on Saturday.

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From Saturday, all passengers coming from the UK will be required to possess a negative PCR test acquired within 72 hours of travelling.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said: “They will have to present that negative test at the border management unit at an airport or at the ferry terminal.

“Failure to do so will be subject to either a fine of 2,500 euros or up to six months imprisonment penal provision, to make sure we get compliance.”

The provision is certain to remain in place until at least January 31, he said.

He added: “We expect other countries to be doing something similar and we’ll work in co-operation with other countries, and with the European Commission, to monitor and manage how this affects individuals.

“The cabinet’s agreed provisionally to apply the same measures to other jurisdictions, other red-list countries.

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“We will work first of all introduce to the UK provisions, and we will work in the next week with European Commission and others, people involved in the travel industry, in terms of how we broaden and apply the same measures too from other jurisdictions.”

Jockey Robbie Power has clarified his riding plans during the current situation, announcing on his Twitter feed that he will stay in Ireland rather than travelling to Britain – including to partner horses trained by Colin Tizzard, as he has for much of the season so far.

He wrote: “Due to the increased number of covid 19 cases in Ireland and the UK and the uncertainty over travel restrictions I have decided to stay in Ireland with my family until restrictions ease.

“I’ve been in quarantine since the 1st of January and look forward to getting back riding on both sides of the Irish Sea as soon as restrictions allow.”

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