Overseas jockeys will be permitted to ride on Group One racedays in Ireland

The Curragh 2018

Overseas jockeys shall be granted access to ride on Group One racedays in Ireland following an immediate change to Covid-19 quarantine protocols for sportspeople.

The Irish Government has enforced a 14-day self-isolation period for anyone arriving in Ireland that is not on their “Green List” of countries, with the UK on the list of nations which that are currently not on that list.

Since the end of lockdown, no jockeys based outside of Ireland have competed there. Many British trainers have had runners in Ireland but they have followed strict protocols and used Irish-based jockeys.

On the flip side, Irish-based jockeys that have ridden abroad, for example Colin Keane, Seamie Heffernan and Billy Lee, all had to isolate for 14 days upon their return to the emerald isle.

Just in the nick of time

Longines Irish Champions Weekend is a huge event on the Irish racing calendar and will take place next week. Horse Racing Ireland put in an appeal to the Government for clarification regarding exemptions for elite athletes and in this case, jockeys.

The Government has now changed its guidelines, allowing jockeys to compete without spending 14 days in quarantine subject to strict measures, but this will only apply for the biggest festivals or meetings and will be restricted to a limited number of jockeys.

HRI Chief Brian Kavanagh said: “We have had a change in the Government protocols concerning sportspeople and athletes published today, but it is very much on a case-by-case basis.

“It will be limited to a small number of riders and only for Group One races.

“Jockeys travelling to ride would be at the lower end of the risk scale as they are operating in secure environments, but it will be on a case-by-case basis.

“Each application will be risk assessed by the medical officer, with risks around contact in travel managed and health checks both before and after.”

Bad news for Heffernan

The new policy will mean it’s great news for Ryan Moore and bad news for Seamie Heffernan who has covered for Ryan in recent months with great success.

Moore is currently in Ireland since last Saturday to start his quarantine ahead of Champions Weekend, but if he chooses to he will now be able to fly back to the UK to ride in Saturday’s feature race, the Sprint Cup at Haydock.

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