This year’s Galway Festival, which runs for seven days from July 27, will be staged behind closed doors if it goes ahead, after the Irish government announced that mass gatherings of 5,000 or more people are banned until September 1 owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Course officials had been hoping that coronavirus restrictions would have been eased in time for the summer festival.

Galway racecourse’s Manager Michael Moloney, speaking to the Racing Post, said: “We have been liaising with Horse Racing Ireland closely over the past few weeks but obviously this is fresh information.

“We have always said that if there were restrictions put in place, we would certainly comply with them.

“I know Horse Racing Ireland is working on the plan for the resumption of racing behind closed doors and hopefully we will still be in a position to do that in order to support the industry and the vast number of people who make their living from it.

“It will be a huge disappointment. A huge number of racegoers come here every year and make the Galway festival an annual event. But we need to be conscious about what’s going on around the world and think of all the people that this pandemic has affected through the loss of life.”

Singapore extends suspension

Authorities in Singapore have extended the suspension of racing in the country until June 1 to reflect government’s policy to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement on the Singapore Turf Club’s website, it said: “In alignment with the government’s extension of the circuit breaker on April 21 all Singapore race meetings will continue to be suspended until June 1.

“The club will continue to evaluate and adapt our business operations in line with prevailing advisories from the multi-ministry taskforce and relevant agencies.

“The safety and wellbeing of visitors and the horseracing community remains the club’s top priority as we take precautionary measures to reduce the spread of the virus.”