Racing off in Ireland from Wednesday after all sporting events are cancelled

There will be no racing in Ireland until at least April 19 after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that all sporting events will be cancelled as of midnight on Tuesday, including those behind closed doors. 

Irish racing fixtures have been held behind closed doors since March 13 with strict protocols in place, but more extreme measures have been taken by the Irish government on Tuesday to limit the spread of the coronavirus, which will see racing stop. 

The seven-race card at Clonmel on Tuesday will be the last fixture in the country until April 19 at the earliest. That means the BoyleSports Irish Grand National will be lost, unless it is pushed backed to a later date. Dundalk's all-weather card will not go ahead on Wednesday.

The development came just a day after the turf Flat season got underway at Naas and means the remainder of the campaign is now in the same uncertain territory as Britain, France and other major international jurisdictions.  

Speaking after the announcement was made, champion trainer Aidan O'Brien suggested the priority had to be on ensuring the health of as many people as possible.  

"Obviously the most important thing is the health and safety of everybody," O'Brien said.

"That's the reality of the situation now. We need to keep people as healthy and as safe as possible and whatever everybody has to do to achieve that is the right thing to do. 

"Everyone in racing has shown they are fully behind implementing the requirements and we will do whatever is necessary. All we can do is help everyone that is on the front line dealing with this crisis. We can only hope and pray now and be vigilant in adhering to the government guidelines. After that, we will just have to take it day by day."