A decision was made by HRI over the past few days to experiment with 25-minute intervals between races at Dundalk next year.
The trial will begin at the meeting on Friday October 14th, and will continue for seven meetings through to the November 25th card.
The reduced 25-minute interval will apply to four races on each seven race card. The following times have been agreed for Dundalk: 6.45pm, 7.10pm, 7.35pm, 8.00pm, 8.30pm, 9.00pm & 9.25pm (There will be a 6.15pm start if there is a divide).
The decision prompted a full-blooded reaction from the Irish Jockeys’ Association in today’s Racing Post.
Their secretary Andrew Coonan said: “I cannot see the benfits of the proposal not can I see how it will work. As an association, we were very surprised to see a press release issued on the subject – the shorter gaps between races was not discussed with us.
“It is especially frustrating considering we wrote to HRI as far back as December 2010 indicating our opposition to the idea.”
Coonan added that Dundalk already has a high Steward’s Inquiry ratio compared to other tracks and this will only increase pressure on stewards and jockeys. He mentioned that jockeys need to consult with trainers before and after a race, as well as weigh-in, change, and weigh-out again. Dehydration was also mentioned by Coonan in his association’s stance against the shorter intervals.
However, one of the key recommendations of the Strategic Marketing Review Group Report published earlier this year was to: ‘Trial the use of shorter intervals between races, beginning with Dundalk’. The idea arose from consultation with racing’s stakeholders who felt that reduced time between races could improve the race-day experience, particularly for relative newcomers to the sport.
Dundalk is seen as an appropriate venue to test this recommendation, with the stables, weigh room, parade ring and racetrack all close together and therefore ideally located for the task of getting races with reduced intervals off on schedule.
As part of HRI’s official statement on the move, Jason Morris, HRI’s Director of Racing said: “This initiative has the full support of the HRI Board and the Stewards of the Turf Club and we are very grateful for the co-operation received from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and racing broadcasters SIS and At The Races in agreeing these times. We are now able to test this idea and will learn a great deal about the logistics, customer appeal and future options around reduced race intervals.”
Is it a good idea to have 25-minute gaps between races? Let me know what you think.