Republic of Ireland to Resume Racing April 14

Racing in the Republic of Ireland is set to resume on Saturday, April 14, after being banned completely from last month in a series of often draconian measures to prevent foot and mouth disease getting a toehold in the country.

No case of foot and mouth has been detected in the Republic of Ireland to date, though there has been one in Northern Ireland. The pressure to allow racing to re-start has been growing, particularly as British week's shutdown.

However, the movement of horses outside Ireland is still being actively discouraged by the Irish government and the breeze-up sales due to be held in Britain by Doncaster Sales and Tattersalls Sales next month may be postponed because of the high level of Irish vendors whose non-participation would render the sales almost meaningless.

The Irish Horseracing Authority announced that racing would restart at Leopardstown and Cork on April 14. It will be the first racing in Ireland since at Naas on February 25.

Martin Moore, the chief executive of the Irish Horseracing Authority, said: "We plan to meet with the Department of Agriculture and the Turf Club over the coming days to finalize the controls and the code of practice required for the resumption of racing. In the short-term I do not expect any change in the restrictions on the import of horses to Ireland from the United Kingdom."

The guidelines still request that Irish horses do not travel overseas, which suggests no runners at the Grand National meeting at Aintree (April 5-7) or the re-scheduled Cheltenham Festival(April 17-19) in April and threatening the two breeze-up sales.

The Irish Trainers' Association is planning to see officials from the Irish Department of Agriculture on Monday, after which the travel position will be clearer.

Fairyhouse's Easter Festival takes place between April 15-18 while the Punchestown Festival is on from April 24-28.

The number of new British foot and mouth outbreaks continued to moderate slightly with 14 in total today, in Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Devon (3 cases), Powys (2 cases), Kent, Cumbria, Anglesey, County Durham (2 cases), Herefordshire, North Yorkshire, Dumfries & Galloway (2 cases), and Monmouthshire. There now have been 273 confirmed cases.

Despite the better climate for racing, the rural British jump course Wincanton decided to call off its fixture on Thursday next week. Wincanton chairman Richard Head said: "While the Wincanton board of directors fully accepts the veterinary advice that providing precautions are in place it is safe to stage a race meeting, such is the strength of feeling in the surrounding area that to go ahead and race next week may have serious implications for the racecourse in the longer term.

"Wincanton Racecourse is dependent upon the support of the local farming community and currently they remain deeply concerned about the possibility of Wincanton holding a race meeting. We will continue to try and inform them of the expert veterinary advice which has been given to racing and of the precautions that are in place for each meeting. We hope that circumstances will soon change for the better and that Wincanton will be able to resume racing."

The racing center of Lambourn in Berkshire abandoned its annual open day on April 13, when thousands of visitors go round the near-40 racing stables in the area. Organizers had been due to review the situation at the end of the month but have decided that there is no point waiting until then to make a decision.

Coordinator Mark Smyly said: "We feel it is in the interests of all in the countryside, as well as being responsive to the situation faced by local farmers, that the event does not go ahead."