THE public and bookmakers will be able to return to point to points for the autumn campaign. Hunts and handlers must acquaint themselves with the protocols and rule changes that apply on the day. Most important is that anyone – public, bookmakers, hunt personnel etc – must pre-register their intention to attend via the app on p2p.ie, the site operated by commentator, Richard Pugh, having been appointed to oversee those attending in accordance with the track and trace protocols.
No charge is applied and the relevant bar code to gain admission will be sent to your phone or via email for printing out. Face masks are mandatory and social distancing should be observed, including that bookmakers will form a straight line and the traditional “ring” with bookmakers facing each other and punters within the square, will no longer be permitted.
The hunt will provide a person to work alongside the Turf Club Covid officer, while also must supply a tent for riders to change – having previously donned colours in a horse box or their car – the three horse boxes are still required for declarations, weighing in and stewards.
Handlers must note only approved tongue straps as approved by the Irish Horse Racing Authority Board (Turf Club) can be used and the person in charge of chipping becomes responsible for inspecting the tongue tie when the horse enters the paddock and the chip is checked again and, in the event of a dispute, a veterinary surgeon will be called to ascertain that the piece of equipment complies with the rules and is not causing any discomfort to the horse.
A new innovation will be the introduction of a STOP flag – the pink and yellow flag will be utilised in the event of a serious incident occurring and the race will be stopped and voided. Another new innovation is that riders who have not partnered five winners will be allowed 5lbs on the race series for novice riders. The 16 race series supported by the Irish National Hunt Committee will have a prize fund based on points and riders must not have ridden in more than 15 races.
Any electronic devices, such as a camera on the helmet, will not be permitted except with the prior approval of the Turf Club. Schooling races will no longer be permitted post racing at fixtures, as medical coverage is not available on the day when racing concludes. Again, new to the arena, a Turf Club official will film both starts and the finish of race, with the majority of stewards’ enquiries called in the past relating to the use of the whip.
If hunt or handlers require advice on the protocols and rule changes, the Northern Inspector of Courses, Frankie Fitzsimmons will be available to answer any questions, while the All-Ireland season gets underway this Saturday, September 25 at Oldcastle, with the first Ulster fixture at Toome on Saturday, October 2.