THE Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) are fully committed to the health and safety of all horseracing participants, particularly horses and riders, and work closely with all the relevant parties to ensure racing takes place safely at all Irish racemeetings throughout the year. Irish racecourses are monitored continuously by the IHRB and make improvements or adjustments wherever possible to improve health and safety. As part of this process we welcome input from all stakeholders, particularly the riders, before, during and after every racemeeting and we seek to address any issues raised at any time as quickly as possible.
On Friday, August 7th at Sligo Racecourse, following an enquiry where all the stakeholder groups were represented, the acting stewards abandoned the remainder of the racemeeting after the fourth race, after four horses had slipped up on the bend past the stands, unseating their riders. We fully support the decision of the acting stewards in the circumstances. Our thoughts are with Ben Coen and we wish him a speedy recovery and we acknowledge the difficulties this situation caused to many people in the industry.
Sligo held a National Hunt racemeeting 48 hours prior to this fixture on Wednesday, August 5th, this in itself being an unusual situation as a result of operational challenges posed by resuming racing behind closed doors in the context of Covid 19 pandemic. Following the running of the first race on August 5th, in line with the IHRB Protocol for addressing issues on a raceday, agreed with the Irish Jockeys Association, a rider approached the IHRB Clerk of the Course, Ms. Tracey O’Meara and expressed concern about the bend past the stands being slippy. This concern was addressed by the Clerk of the Course and the groundstaff at this time and also following the second race as another rider suggested some more remedial action was required. There were no further concerns raised by any riders following the third race or thereafter on August 5th.
In advance of the flat fixture in question on August 7th, further remedial action was carried out on this area of the track. Unfortunately, during the running of the fourth race, four horses slipped on the same part of the bend which had been used for horses, people and machinery to access the stableyard on August 5th. A damp morning where 5mm of rain fell, followed by a warm, sunny afternoon may have been a contributory factor.
Following initial investigations since the incident, it would appear that the grass in this area was flattened by the crossing traffic on August 5th and made greasy and slippy with the rain that morning This appears to be one of the reasons for the horses slipping.
The IHRB will continue to review and monitor Sligo Racecourse and work closely with the racecourse executive to ensure safety in all areas and we will be liaising with the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association (IRTA), the Irish Jockeys Association (IJA) and other relevant interested stakeholders over this issue in the coming days. We are confident that by making a number of adjustments in this general area the issues experienced on August 7th can be resolved.