The Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee (INHSC) has announced the suspension of the 2021 point-to-point racing season in Ireland with immediate effect, following updated government guidance.

The committee said it received clarification today (Wednesday, January 13) from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine that point-to-point racing would not be included in the category of professional and elite sports permitted to continue behind closed doors.

This will mean that no upcoming point-to-point fixtures will take place until further notice.

Paul Murtagh, the registrar of the INHSC, said: “We note the clarification received today from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine that point-to-points should not take place until further notice, recognising the difficult situation the country finds itself in presently”.

“We will now begin to investigate the options available to us around the fixture list and race programming for when we are permitted to recommence. We will continue to liaise closely with HRI [Horse Racing Ireland] on this matter and will remain racing-ready to run point-to-points once we get the green light,” Murtagh added.

Responding to this development, a member of the Seanad has said it has “come as a shock to the sector”.

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard said: “The point-to-point racing was working under extreme restrictions for the last few months. Now, 13 days into the new restrictions, this decision has come out of the blue.

“It is definitely something that will have to be discussed at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine,” Lombard added.