By Denis J. Croke
HORSE Racoing Ireland has announced the Galway Festival will remain a seven-day meeting on its original dates this year. There will however be changes to the traditional race programme.
Scheduled to begin on Monday 27 July the opening two days will host Flat races only while the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday fixtures will be all National Hunt. The meeting will conclude, in the first two days of August, with two all-Flat cards. The Galway Plate and Galway Hurdle will be run on the Wednesday and Thursday as normal.
Irish racing returns behind closed doors with strict new HRI protocols in place at Naas on Monday 8 June. The revised fixture list for July features 47 meetings, three more than in the original schedule. In recognition of the increased workload, there will now be three days (up from two) on which no racing takes place during the month.
HRI’s director of racing Jason Morris said: “We recognise that there will be a large demand for opportunities to run and our aim is to provide all Flat horses with their first run as quickly as possible following the resumption of racing by offering a balanced programme across all age groups, distances and categories. There will be 53 Flat meetings up to the end of July with this objective in mind.
“There will also be 22 National Hunt fixtures programmed between June 22nd and the end of July, compared to the equivalent of 17 meetings in the same period last year, to cater for the demands of the jumps horse population.
“There will be eight-race cards run at every opportunity where stable capacity allows, with the protocols requiring one stable per horse for hygiene reasons.”
The number of racedays at Killarney in July has been reduced from five to three which will be stand-alone fixtures on Tuesday 7 July, Monday 13 July and Wednesday 15 July. The two lost days will be rescheduled later in the year.
Cork Racecourse will host four fixtures, beginning with an all-Flat card on Sunday 5 Jul. Bellewstown will stage three non-consecutive days in July, while two extra fixtures will be held at the Curragh on Friday 10 July and Sunday 26 July, the latter featuring the Tattersalls Gold Cup.