DUBLIN (Reuters) – Horse racing will return to Ireland behind closed doors next month with the Irish 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas to be staged at the Curragh on June 12-13.
The first Irish race since the coronavirus shutdown of world sport will be on the flat at Punchestown on June 8.
The Irish Derby retains its traditional date on June 27 with the Irish Oaks on July 18.
The Board of Horse Racing Ireland met on Saturday to discuss a number of fixture and prize money recommendations.
“For the first three weeks, racing will be restricted to nine racecourses which are more centrally located to minimise travel distances and which also have higher stable capacities given the requirement for one stable per horse under the new protocols,” HRI said in a statement.
“Safety limits will be decided on a racecourse by racecourse basis to accommodate each track’s social distancing requirements, with a general maximum limit of 18 initially.”
Cork racecourse will not be used in June as it continues to serve an important role as a COVID-19 test centre.
While racing will return, prizemoney will be significantly reduced as the industry adjusts to the financial fallout of two months of inactivity.
The Irish Derby’s prize fund will drop by 50% to 750,000 euros.
“Regrettably a number of prize money reductions will take immediate effect for June, with the possibility that further downward adjustments will be required through the rest of the year,” a statement said.
“The focus has been on maintaining prize money levels in the lower to medium tiers as high as possible.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond