The recently announced suspension of the point-to-point racing season in light of Covid-19 restrictions will “have very serious financial implications” according to one TD.

Last week, the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee (INHSC) 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 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.

Raising the issue in the Dáil yesterday (Thursday, January 21), Fianna Fail TD Jackie Cahill recognised the need to increase Covid-19 restrictions, and said he was not criticising the decision. However, he highlighted the difficulty that this presented to the industry.

Following on from a letter that he sent to Minister Charlie McConalogue on the matter, Cahill said yesterday: “This decision is going to have very serious financial implications for our world-renowned national hunt Industry.

“This is a time-sensitive issue and the window for the sale of three-year-olds down to yearlings and foals is narrow,” the Tipperary TD pointed out.

“Point-to-point is the shop window for the selling of the majority of our national hunt young horses and if we miss a year’s racing, the sales of these horses will be severely impacted,” he stressed.

I am asking the government what financial plans or rescue package are in place to protect the entire national hunt breeding industry which will be severely impacted by this decision.

“There are thousands of livelihoods dependent on this industry, and each one is linked to the other. We are talking about ordinary people the length and breadth of the country that are looking at major financial loss this year as sales decrease dramatically as a result of the cancellation of the point-to-point season,” Cahill concluded.