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IHRB Statistics show healthy increase in number of runners

There was a 7% increase in the number runners in point-to-points during the 2018/19 season, according to data released by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board in it’s integrity statistics for 2019.

In all, there were 5,450 runners, an increase of 363 on the 2017/18 season, whilst there was also a marginal increase in the number of individual horses that featured between the flags, 2,219 horses in comparison with 2,152 a season earlier.

Whilst there were six fewer four-year-old’s, 737 in 2018/19 in comparison with 743 in 17/18, there were encouraging increases in the number of five-year-old’s, six-year-old’s and seven-year-old’s. There was also a near 60% increase in the number of 11-year-old’s in action last season.

The number of fixtures grew from 94 to 101, thanks in a large part to fewer cancellations. The 17/18 season had been significantly hit with 15 fixtures either cancelled or abandoned, a number which dropped to just eight last season.

With a great number of runners, there was a knock-on effect in the number of races which took place, 636 in comparison with 602 in 2017/18.

When compared with the peak, there was a notable decrease in the number of race division, which has dropped from 74 to 32 in six years.

The number of handler permits issued also fell last season, the figure of 623 permits, marking a drop of seven from a year earlier.

In contrast the number of qualified rider permits has gone the other way, increasing by 7% year-on-year, and with 340 issued in 2019, it is the highest number since 2015, when 346 permits were issued.

Medical Statistics

The 2018-19 season did produce a slight rise in the number of recorded injuries, which rose from 27 to 32, however this remains considerably lower than had been the case for the preceding years, which stood at 76 back in the 2013/14 season, a welcome drop of 64%.

In line with this, the injury rate per fall has dropped from 9.43% in that 13/14 season, to 4.96% last season, whilst the injury rate per ride in point-to-points has almost halved in the same six-year period. It dropped from 1.01% to 0.58% last year.

The fall rate per ride stood at 11.83% last season.

Integrity Statistics

The IHRB has continued a strong policy of drug testing point-to-point horses, preserving the integrity of the sport, with a total of 617 samples taken last season.

This marked an 89% increase within a six-year period.

In February 2019, the IHRB announced that the testing of riders for banned substances would be introduced at point-to-points.

Speaking at the time, Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the IHRB, stated: “testing of riders for banned substances is being introduced at point-to-points in the next few weeks and this will mean that many riders who do not regularly ride on the racecourse, are likely to be tested.”

That testing began at Durrow point-to-point the following month, and in all throughout 2019, drug testing was carried out at eight fixtures, with 64 samples taken and analysed. These did not produce a positive test for a prohibited substance.

Alcohol testing of riders also took place at one point-to-point fixture in 2019. This also did not produce a positive test from the 34 tests that were taken.

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