The seven-day horse racing event has been given the go-ahead, but what will this year's festival look like?
The Galway Races is one of the biggest summer events on the Irish social calendar.
From hardcore punters to fashion fiends, it attracts people from every corner of the country. The seven-day racing extravaganza is the bread and butter for the city of Galway, however this year, it will look a lot different.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, horse racing and other events that attract large numbers of attendees have been cancelled. Horse racing had begun to take place behind closed doors but this practice was cancelled when increased lockdown measures were introduced.
Irish racing now returns behind closed doors with strict new Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) protocols in place at Naas on June 8. The HRI outlined the fixture list for both June and July yesterday which includes the Galway Racing Festival program.
What will it look like?
The biggest change is that there will be no spectators. Behind closed doors means only immediate personnel (jockeys, trainers, etc) are allowed on site. They will each have to maintain proper social distancing as outlined by the government. Race days will also be a single code (for example, National Hunt or Flat races) with no mixed meetings so as to minimise the number of people working at the racecourse.
It's still being maintained as a seven-day racing event but the traditional card has changed. The first two days will host only Flat racing, while Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be National Hunt. The Galway Plate and Galway Hurdle – the two most valuable races of the festival – will be run on Wednesday and Thursday as usual. The final two days will both be Flat cards.
The Killarney races fixture has been changed from a five day to a three-day event on Tuesday July 7, Monday July 13, and Wednesday July 15, while Cork racecourse will resume racing on Sunday, July 5.
Jason Morris, HRI’s Director of Racing, said: “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.”
Image: The Galway Races
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