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Galway Festival could go ahead...
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Galway Festival could go ahead behind closed doors say organisers

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

20:28 21 Apr 2020

This summer's Galway Festival could be staged behind closed doors after organisers conceded this year's renewal could not be open to the public. 

The Galway Race Committee released their statement in the wake of the extending of the ban on mass gatherings of more than 5,000 to August 31.

This year's Galway Races Summer Festival is due to be held from Monday July 27 to Sunday August 2.

The total attendance for last year's festival stood at 129,118.

Racing in the country is still suspended until early May at the earliest, while Tuesday's government ruling means crowds will have to be absent from Ballybrit this year.

The Galway Race Committee say, "It may prove possible to run the Galway Races behind closed doors, dependent on Government policy and the approval of Horse Racing Ireland and Irish Horse Racing Regulatory Board.

"This would be for the benefit of the racing industry, our valued partners and our television audiences at home and internationally.

"We are currently planning for this scenario and we will update you on progress as and when we can."

There is renewed hope, however, that Irish racing can safely resume behind closed doors.

Edoard de Rothschild is president of the French horse racing authority France Galop, and said on Monday night he was "not pessimistic about the resumption of closed-door races on May 11".

His tweet was sent following a meeting with Didier Guillaume, France's Minister of Agriculture and Gerald Darmanin, Minister of Public Action and Accounts over a potential resumption of racing in the country.

Action there has been shelved since March 17.

Their meeting was described as positive and constructive.

Horse Racing Ireland Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh remains hopeful that Irish Guineas weekend can still go ahead as planned in late May.

Speaking to Racing TV, Kavanagh stipulated, "Racing will resume, with the approval of the Chief Medical Officer and the Government, when it is appropriate and safe to do so.

"And it will take place behind closed doors for as long as the Government has a policy in place prohibiting mass gatherings."

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