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Ballymacads stage successful meeting behind closed doors at Oldcastle

The second point to point of the season took place at Oldcastle on Sunday where the Ballymacad Hunt took the baton from the Ormonds and had to adhere to the new protocols in order to run their meeting.

Whilst there were many similarities to the meeting on Saturday it is interesting to note and even compare how the day went.

For those who attended both days there was a consistency which is positive. Once participants begin to know what is expected from them in each instance that in its own way will assist the Hunt Committees who are running meetings later in the Autumn under these protocols.

•    Upon arrival it was a similar requirement to Ballingarry. All those attending were asked to step out of their car or lorry and go through the Health Screening Process.

The check in area was moved in off the road to avoid any traffic which was notably small naturally owing to there not being a crowd.

Once you arrive to the designated parking area and exited your vehice the bar code was the first item checked. It is helpful to have this ready before presenting for screening. Secondly temperature is taken and finally once that has gone well the wrist band is provided.

Upon returning to your car at Oldcastle you then had to drive to the exit of the entry zone which was roped off and a Hunt member checked that all those in the vehicles had a wrist band.

This was a very thorough check providing confidence that the field was well managed. Noone could enter the field passed this entrance area which was cordoned off without a wrist band.

For the second day no one tried to enter the field who had not completed health screening.

•    It was notable upon arrival, even for those who arrived early, that the Hunt had their committee on call earlier than normal both days. With the gate having to be fully setup before any participants arrive both committees were prepared for this.

•    Unlike Ballingarry there is no fixed structure or shed at Oldcastle so they were required to use horse boxes to carry out each function (as seen in photo). It was clear that given this was the first time this had actually been actioned at a point to point that the IHRB officials and the Committee were working together to practically determine the best systems in each area. This interaction is helpful to the overall relationship between committees and officials in many respects.

•    Riders parked immediately behind the horseboxes and this is a key point. Accessibility of all participants was catered for at both meetings and needs to continue to be the case. This helps to overcome the lack of a weigh tent at the meeting to have all key people accessible. It will be even more important in more wintery weather so people can use their cars for shelter but remain accessible.

•    One thing which is notable is that when all participants are closely positioned the meeting runs more quickly. There was slight delay to one race while a fence was being inspected and then removed but one race later then 8-10 mins which was lost had been caught. All participants and Scales, Parade Ring etc are so easily accessible that it seems easier to keep to time or make time when needed.

•    The PA announcer, as it was on Saturday, was key to the smooth running of the meeting. It was obvious that announcements being made to call appropriate people to Scales, Declarations etc was required as people will not be accessible as they would normally have been in the weigh room.

•    Handlers adhered well to bringing horses to the micro chipping area.

•    Mask wearing which universally respected although on a wet day it may be helpful to bring more than one mask.

•    Both days saw ideal weather conditions both for racing and those in attendance. It is worth noting that this system will not be a pleasant one on a day with poor weather and those running the meeting and riders will need to prepare in advance for the days where the weather is not so kind.

•    Multiple champion rider Barry O’Neill spoke mid-way through the day to thank the Committee for their efforts in running the meeting on the opening weekend and there was a general appreciation on both days for the efforts made to take the opening weekend fixture and adhere to all the requirements.

•    No catering was available either day as per the protocols

Both the Ormond Hunt and the Ballymacads did an excellent job in running a fixture on the opening weekend.

The attention to the details required was admirable and the general positivity from both committees was notable in terms of doing what needed to be done. All Handlers, Riders and other attendees respected the requirements and it is clearly obvious following two meetings that having such a small number of people on such a large site is very easy to manage from a public health perspective.

It is hoped that given the IHRB and many participants have now managed two meetings that these learning will carry forward to ensure a smooth continuation of point to points in the coming weeks and months.  

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