WHEN racing resumes at Naas next Monday it will do so under conditions never before witnessed at a racetrack in Ireland.
Rigorous protocols and safety measures have been put in place to allow racing resume and attendance will be strictly limited to essential staff only. Each attendee must register for health screening and be in possession of a barcode to gain entry.
For the past few weeks I and several of my colleagues in Horse Racing Ireland and the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board have been on the road, visiting racecourses and getting them prepared for the new way of operating, while also trying to anticipate any issues in advance of race day.
Darren Lawlor (HRI Broadcast Manager) and I have been helping each racecourse identify the most suitable entrance point, one that can safely house each of the different stations that people must pass through.
Not every racecourse has the natural advantage of a main entrance building, so we have needed to be creative with some of them. Ultimately though the response from each of the racecourses has been overwhelmingly positive.
Receiving a document as thorough as the HRI-published protocols for racemeetings behind closed doors was quite intimidating to some and there was a genuine appreciation that we were on hand to talk through what was needed and that we would be supporting them all the way through.
To a certain extent though, the hard work only begins now. There is a collective responsibility to ensure a smooth opening and we will ensure swift access to everyone who turns up with the correct access barcode. This is vital as access will not be permitted without the correct barcode.
The analogy I have been using with racecourses is that of an airport – when you arrive you must have your boarding pass and you must clear security before you get airside. It will be precisely the same at a race meeting – you must have the correct barcode to gain entry and you must pass a temperature check. Cut-off to register for health-screening to attend Naas on Monday is 6pm on Saturday evening.
Darren, Sharleen O’Reilly (Racing Operations Manager) and I will also fill the role of Compliance Officers during racedays. We will be promoting and coaching good hygiene, ensuring that safe social distancing is being practised, while helping everyone become familiar with the new workplace.
Research suggests that a habit takes 21 days to form. We are all now well-versed in the appropriate hygiene and social distancing requirements, so we don’t anticipate too many difficulties once everyone applies patience and common sense.
Please visit the hri.ie and ihrb.ie websites for more information, including a series of videos which explain many of the new procedures.
Key points before returning to racing
• Everyone must register for health screening and complete the baseline questionnaire by 6pm two days before your first meeting. The registration system is scheduled to be available on the HRI website today (Saturday).
• After completing the questionnaire satisfactorily, you will receive a barcode on your phone or via email. You must present this barcode to gain entry, so either bring your phone or print out the email.
Key points before your next race meeting
• Everyone must complete a screening questionnaire by no later than 6pm the day before their next race meeting – this will generate a health screening barcode. The registration system for Naas on Monday will open today (Saturday) and closes at 6pm on Sunday.
• This must be completed in advance of EVERY time you come racing, even if that means completing the questionnaire every day.
• Each barcode will remain valid for 24 hours only. If you have not completed it before racing the next day you will not be granted entry.
AIR card mandatory
TRAINERS and jockeys are reminded that AIR cards are required to gain access to the racecourse at all times from Monday. There will be no exceptions. Now is the time to replace your AIR card if you have misplaced it. The replacement fee is €10. Please contact the AIR on 01 6760911 or email your name and number to firstname.lastname@example.org and you will be contacted to organise a replacement card.
IN a bid to minimise the amount of paperwork and personal interaction on racedays, trainers are being asked to upload copies of horse passports and vaccination certificates to the IHRB website for pre-clearance.