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St Patrick's Day at Down Royal behind closed doors

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Priority: Emma Meehan

Priority: Emma Meehan

Priority: Emma Meehan

The management team at Down Royal Racecourse has announced its intention to run next Tuesday's St Patrick's Day race meeting behind closed doors.

The decision has been made in response to the announcement of nationwide measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Emma Meehan, chief executive of Down Royal Racecourse, said: "We apologise for any inconvenience caused. However, the health and safety of racegoers is our priority.

"Only runners, riders and trainers will be in attendance, with turnstiles closed to racegoers.

"Ticketholders will automatically receive a full refund within 14 working days."

The St Patrick's Day meeting is traditionally one of the best attended at Down Royal, as popular with racegoers as the Summer and November Festivals and Boxing Day.

But it is a sensible and responsible decision by the course management in the current health emergency. The next scheduled meeting at the course in on May 4.

Racing across Ireland will continue behind closed doors, starting with tonight's Dundalk meeting, after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the imminent closure of all schools and colleges and a ban on outdoor gatherings of 500 people or more, initially until March 29 with the situation kept under review.

Meanwhile, The Storyteller - owned by Templepatrick duo Joe and Pat Sloan - was denied in a photo finish to the Pertemps Hurdle at Cheltenham yesterday with stable mate Sire Du Berlais getting the verdict.

The pair are trained by Gordon Elliott.

Belfast Telegraph