Gavin Cromwell is among those hoping to take advantage of racing continuing in Ireland when he saddles two runners at Dundalk on Friday.
While racing in Britain has been suspended until at least the end of April due to the coronavirus outbreak, Horse Racing Ireland, the governing body of Irish racing, confirmed on Wednesday the sport would continue behind closed doors and with strict protocols in place.
Champion Hurdle-winning trainer Cromwell feels the right call was made by HRI.
He said: “It’s great we’re able to continue racing for the time being. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep going for a while, at least.
“It’s very important for everyone – trainers, jockeys, owners. I would have to lay some staff off if we did stop, but hopefully it won’t come to that – racing behind closed doors is working perfectly well at the moment.”
The most valuable event on the card at Dundalk is the 15,000 euro Love Your Mum At The Races Weekend Median Auction Race, in which Cromwell saddles course and distance winner Point Reyes.
The daughter of American stallion Competitive Edge makes her first competitive appearance since finishing sixth at Ireland’s only all-weather track in early December.
“She’s having her first run back, but she seems in good form, she’s won at the track and her rating (78) should put her in the mix in a race like this,” said Cromwell.
The Danestown-based trainer’s other runner is Differentiate in the View Restaurant At Dundalk Stadium Maiden, and he added: “He’s probably one for handicaps down the road, realistically.”
Another trainer pleased racing goes ahead is dual-purpose handler Denis Hogan, who sends a team of five to the County Louth circuit.
He said: “It’s great we’re able to carry on for the moment, anyway. Obviously they’re continually monitoring the situation and who knows how long we can continue?
“It’s the unknown of it all that’s the biggest worry, I suppose. There’s no timeline on it and we’ll just have to see how it goes.
“Obviously the number one concern of everybody is the health of the nation and trying to keep everyone safe, but if we can keep racing that will be good for everyone in the industry.”
Hogan will be disappointed if he does not leave Dundalk with a winner, with stable companions Yuften and Tony The Gent seemingly the two to focus on in the Crowne Plaza Dundalk Race & Stay Claiming Race.
The standard is set by the 92-rated Yuften – a seven-time winner at the track. Tony The Gent, rated 75, appears his biggest threat, with every other runner rated in the 40s and 50s.
“You’d like to think Yuften will win the claimer. He’s a multiple course winner, he’s obviously well in at the weights and this level he should be hard to beat,” said Hogan.
“Tony (The Gent) should run well, too. He’s a course and distance winner as well and just got beaten in a claimer there the last day.”
Assessing the chances of his other three runners on the card, Hogan added: “Never Rains has been working well and we’re putting the blinkers on her in the apprentice handicap, but you’d be more hopeful than confident.
“Mithmaar is having his first run in a handicap and you’d like to think he’s not badly handicapped on 57, so hopefully he’ll run well.
“Malbas is having his first run back after a break and will probably need it.”