Point-to-Point racing in Ireland will not resume in March following the publication of the Irish government’s Covid-19 "resilience and recovery 2021 - the path ahead," with Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions extending until April 5. The majority of restrictions in Northern Ireland will also remain in place until April 1.
The sport here has been suspended since a January 13 announcement that point-to-pointing would no longer be included by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in the category of professional and elite sports permitted to continue behind closed doors.
In announcing that point-to-pointing would not resume until early April, Paul Murtagh Registrar of the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee, confirmed that they had received clarification from DAFM that the point-to-point season would remain suspended at this time under the plan.
He added that discussions between the INHSC and HRI have been ongoing in recent weeks to examine the possibility of providing a limited number of days on the racecourse during March to address the issue of balloting of entries in hurdles races and to provide opportunities in bumpers for horses who are trained by point-to-point handlers and hold a valid Hunter Certificate.
An announcement on this is expected in the coming days, and handlers will receive a consultative email later this week to establish the demand for bumper races on the track during March and also to establish the number and category of horses which remain in the point-to-point system should the sport be permitted to resume in April.
Connections do already have the option of running their horses on the track following the temporary modification to Regulation 8 which was made to allow horses with a valid Hunters Certificate to run on the racecourse while the 2021 spring point-to-point season remains suspended and retain their Hunters Certificate to run in Point to Points unless they win a race.
Whilst the modification is in place, any horse that runs on the racecourse will remain eligible to be registered for a Hunter Certificate to run in point-to-points for the remainder of the spring season once it recommences, providing that they have not run on the racecourse between 1st November 2020 to 13th January 2021 inclusive or have won a race on the racecourse after 29th February 2020.
There is greater hope that the month of April will bring a resumption of point-to-point racing,