Irish racing can start to welcome back the crowds
Danny Scutchings welcomes the news that crowds can return to Irish racecourses, even if the initial numbers are a disappointment
Well, it seems common sense has finally prevailed with the news that Irish racing could welcome back full attendances for the first time in 18 months in October after the Irish government announced their reopening plan.
From 22 October, providing there are no Covid spikes, all restrictions will be lifted and, from this coming Monday 6 September, some courses could see increased numbers as large outdoor sports stadiums will be able to host at 75% of their full capacity if they are only admitting vaccinated fans.
If they allowing a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated then it will be 50%. It’s up to each individual sports ruling body as to what way they go.
Irish racing has been under strict guidelines with the number of paying customers currently allowed capped at 500.
After the announcement the question was then how big are the attendances likely to be for Irish Champions Weekend which begins on 11 September?.
On Wednesday the GAA confirmed that the All-Ireland football final being held at Croke Park on the same day as the Irish Champion Stakes will have 41,150 fans on hand.
Horse Racing Ireland finalised details and said crowd numbers for Champions Weekend would be set at 4,000 for both days, with the harvest festival at Listowel restricted to 2,000 a day. It’s not the big numbers I was expecting but it’s a start.
Irish racing has been suffering for a lot longer than there British counterparts but it looks like there is now light at the end of a very long tunnel.