THE horse and pony racing season is likely to resume with the famous three-day Dingle Races meeting on August 5th-7th.

Due to insurance problems the season stopped in May shortly after it had started. For the past two months the voluntary groups who organise these fixtures – which have a strong record in producing future jockeys – have been hounding insurance brokers and underwriters to give them a quote for a new policy.

Antoinette Gallagher of the Midlands Horse and Pony Racing Association has been deeply involved and confirmed that good news arrived last weekend when an insurance company issued a quote. The new policy will require an up-front payment of €30,000 plus an additional €1,000 per fixture staged.

“We had hoped to start back racing in Carlow this weekend but the policy has not come through yet,” Gallagher told The Irish Field. “We could probably race by the August bank holiday weekend but we don’t think many owners would want to run their horses a week before Dingle, so that is probably where we will start.

“If we can get the money together to cover the insurance, there is no reason why we can’t reschedule all the lost meetings, once the landowners are happy to go ahead.”

In 2019 the insurance premium was just €12,500 to cover 30 meetings. Even though no pony racing was staged during 2020 due to Covid, the premium was still paid as the organisers were advised not to let the policy lapse.

However, in 2021 the premium practically doubled to €24,500 and this was for just 11 fixtures. Horse Racing Ireland paid half of that sum and have indicated they will again contribute this year.

“Horse and pony racing will survive,” Gallagher added. “We will do everything we can to guarantee it. It has been a most stressful few months but it will be worth it once these superstar kids are back in the saddles.”

Insurance companies have been gradually withdrawing from all areas of equine sports in recent years. A number of successful insurance claims linked to hunting are thought to be the main reason behind the exodus of insurance companies from horse-related activities.

Point-to-points have also seen their premiums rocket while some racecourses have also experienced difficulties in getting adequate cover, especially for ‘participants’, such as jockeys.

Gallagher commented: “We are being placed in the same category as hunting and eventing, which are much more dangerous activities with jumps. All our racing is on the flat but we are such a small sector that the insurance companies aren’t interested in differentiating between us and other pursuits.”