Just hours away from the start of the Cheltenham Festival we have seen the first case of a scheduled horseracing meeting being cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board confirmed that Duhallow Point-to-Point in Cork has been called off due to the coronavirus spread.
Organisers have signalled no intent to cancel or postpone the Cheltenham Festival.
The IHRB released a statement earlier:
The Duhallow Liscarroll Point to Point fixture scheduled for Sunday 22nd March has been cancelled.
Following a meeting of the Duhallow Hunt Club committee last night, the decision was taken to cancel the fixture due to concerns relating to the COVID-19 virus.
The Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee (INHSC) and the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) would like to affirm that this is the decision of an individual Hunt and organising committee and that the INHSC and the IHRB will continue to follow government and HSE guidelines in relation to all other Point to Point fixtures.
We will continue to monitor the situation going forward and all other Point-to-Point fixtures are planned to proceed as scheduled.
Despite a first confirmed case of the virus in the town of Cheltenham over the weekend, the meeting at Prestbury Park will go ahead as scheduled on Tuesday.
The news of the confirmed case of COVID-19 in Cheltenham did spook the market as to whether the meeting would go ahead with the price for the meeting to go ahead as big as 1.26 having been 1.03 prior to the news.
That’s mad pic.twitter.com/ve7Qzordzl
— Barry Orr (@BetfairBarry) March 9, 2020
The Cheltenham Festival was cancelled in 2001 due to the outbreak of foot and mouth. However, that was done weeks in advance.
Scores of horses trainers, jockeys and stable staff are already in situ at Cheltenham, with the meeting looking certain to go ahead.