The racing industry in Ireland is big business. And not just for bookies or fans who love a day out. It is far more important than that. Employing over 14,000 people and worth over €1 billion to the economy, it’s recent break was a tough blow for all involved.
Its history dates back to 1685 when Downpatrick, in Co Down, became the first town to have a racecourse. It is now the oldest of the 26 courses scattered throughout the country. Ireland is the third-largest breeder of thoroughbreds in the world and the largest breeder of thoroughbreds in the EU.
As of 2019 the country has a population of around 96,000 horses and recorded a population of 34,821 thoroughbreds in 2016. So when racing stops and the industry is paused, it really suffers.
The good news is that jumps racing has now re-started in Ireland. With plenty of safety measures in place, Limerick Racecourse was the first to hold a jumps meeting on Jun 22nd, 2020.
Opening Day Winners
With eight races on the evening card, the going was good and the runners were out in force. The opening race was the 4:10 over 2m½f and worth. Getting the evening off to a winning start was Filan D’oudaires, the 4/2 shot that is trained by Joseph O’Brien and ridden by Mark Walsh.
“It’s a good start after the break with our first runner over jumps,” said Brendan Powell, assistant trainer to O’Brien.
“He was fit and well and jumped beautifully. Mark said he was very slick over his hurdles.”
Powell added: “He can be a bit keen and Mark just let him bowl along today, he said he settled in front and let him have a look at what he was doing.”
Next up was a Division 2 maiden hurdle which was also worth €7,080 to the winner. With 15 runners it was the 20/1 shot Rebel Gold, from trainer Thomas Foley, who came home the winner with Paddy Kennedy on board.
Other winners on the night included trainer Charles Byrnes and father and son duo Declan Queally snr and jnr. Henry De Bromhead took the last race of the night, the Cappamore (C & G) INH Flat Race with Train Hill who went off on odds of 9/1.
Next Up On The Jumps Calendar
Jumps racing will continue in Ireland, albeit behind closed doors, and next up is the Roscommon meeting on Wednesday 24th. Tipperary rounds off the week with their event on Friday 26th June 2020.
For the most part, racing in the UK continues on the flat and there is plenty of action to be had there. Royal Ascot drew the biggest tv viewing figures for ITV since 2012 when nearly 1.8 million people tuned in to watch Hayley Turner secure back-to-back wins in the Sandringham Stakes. Those figures doubled the 2019 average of 962,000.
Another huge draw for fans at home was the John Gosden trained Stradivarius with 1.5 million tuning in to witness him secure a hat-trick of Gold Cups.
It clearly delighted ITV Racing presenter Ed Chamberlin. He said: “It’s a nice surprise.
“If I’m honest I thought we might take a bit of a hit with none of the magic of Royal Ascot to sell like the Queen, the royal procession and all the fun and games that normally goes with it.”
So while we may not actually be able to attend the races, there’s still plenty of tv action.
Of course, you also have the option of placing a bet on any of the races and streaming it via your online bookmakers. Most will accept a minimum bet of 50p and that gives you access to the race live.