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Horse racing set for early return in the Republic

 

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Horse Racing Ireland had been consulting with the Irish government on the possibility of an earlier return, with chief executive Brian Kavanagh underlining the fact racing was staged without spectators before it shut down in March (stock photo)

Horse Racing Ireland had been consulting with the Irish government on the possibility of an earlier return, with chief executive Brian Kavanagh underlining the fact racing was staged without spectators before it shut down in March (stock photo)

Horse Racing Ireland had been consulting with the Irish government on the possibility of an earlier return, with chief executive Brian Kavanagh underlining the fact racing was staged without spectators before it shut down in March (stock photo)

Racing is set to resume under strict protocols and behind closed doors in the Republic of Ireland on June 8.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said last week that racing, as a spectator-free sport, would fall into the third phase of the Irish government's plan to ease lockdown restrictions, meaning a June 29 restart looked likely.

However, Horse Racing Ireland had been consulting with the Irish government on the possibility of an earlier return, with chief executive Brian Kavanagh underlining the fact racing was staged without spectators before it shut down in March.

Those consultations appear to have paid dividends with Peter Burke, Fine Gael TD for the Longford-Westmeath constituency in the Dail, announcing the resumption of the sport would now fall into the second phase.

He tweeted: "Horse Racing to return behind closed doors with strict protocols from June 8. Much needed certainty for the sector."

Prior to racing being suspended in March, a total of 10 fixtures were held behind closed doors, the last of them at Clonmel on March 24.

Meanwhile, Prince Of Arran could head to Newcastle for the Sagaro Stakes if it goes ahead as planned on June 6.

Racing in the UK is currently pencilled in to resume on June 1, subject to government approval, with the British Horseracing Authority having unveiled their intended programme for the first eight days on Thursday.

The two-mile Sagaro, which is usually held at Ascot, is traditionally a trial for the Gold Cup at the Royal meeting and trainer Charlie Fellowes had already outlined the possibility of his dual Melbourne Cup-placed runner tackling the stayers' showpiece.

The Royal fixture is currently in its original slot starting on June 16 and Fellowes would have no issues in backing up quickly with his charge, who also finished second in the 2018 Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.

He said: "Newcastle is right up his street and he likes the all-weather, so my eyes lit up when I saw the Sagaro was there. He's a seven-year-old and in Australia had a couple of prep runs before the big one and run well, so I wouldn't worry about backing up into Royal Ascot.

"It's 90% about the track he's running on. If he likes it that's fine, but if he doesn't he can disappoint and we know he likes Newcastle."

Belfast Telegraph