NO FANS: Scenes like this will not happen this year as the first day of Killarney Races is set to go ahead behind closed doors. Photo: Konrad Paprocki.

By Sean Moriarty

The first day of Killarney’s traditional summer racing festival will take as a standalone event on Tuesday without the presence of spectators.

The summer festival, which usually runs from Monday to Friday over the first week of July, is being staggered over three days and two different weeks.

The opening meeting is set for Tuesday while next Monday (July 13) and Wednesday (July 15) will host the second and third day of action.

The meeting will take place behind closed doors as Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) must comply with current crowd gathering rules. The dates are spread out in case there is a case of COVID-19 recorded at the venue. If such a thing were to happen it would take a full day to deep clean the venue.

“It is one of the best cards we ever had for a July meeting but, unfortunately without spectators,” Killarney Racecourse Manager Phillip O’Brien told the Killarney Advertiser.

It is a bitter blow for O’Brien and his tram of about 25 outdoor staff. The course must be prepared as usual, while access to the track is only granted to jockeys, trainers, HRI staff and limited to others like a television crew from Racing TV. Even photographers are limited and those working in horse racing media are expected to syndicate their images to those who cannot get access.

“Racing is all about the horse too,” added O’Brien. “The course and the jumps have to be in perfect condition. It is such a pity really, we have a lot of improvements done, including a new parade ring and it would be nice to show it off.”

O’Brien said he would have to wait for further Government and HRI directives before speculating if racing fans would be allowed attend the August meeting.

Local fans who want to keep in touch with the day’s events can tune into Radio Kerry who will broadcast each of the day’s races live.