As a result of operational challenges for the IHRB this year with running Point to Points behind closed doors, the Duhallow (F) Kanturk fixture, traditionally held between Christmas and New Year, has now been scheduled for Sunday 20th December.
Traditionally the fixture at the Co. Cork venue over the festive period takes place in the day’s following Christmas, however this year it will now be run just seven days after the final autumn fixtures at Oldcastle, Stradbally and Boulta.
The Spring 2021 season will now commence at United Hunt (F) Lisgoold on Sunday 3rd January 2021.
The shorter gap will see just one blank weekend in the point-to-point schedule from mid-September through to the end of May, with the 2021 season finishing one week shorter than usual.
The end of season programme also has a different look to it, with the final weekend of racing no longer taking place on the June Bank Holiday weekend, as it now falls to the two-day fixture at Kinsale on May 29 and 30 to bring the curtain down the season.
Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic the demand from hunt committees remains as strong as ever, with 78 fixtures scheduled for the season which remains on par with last year’s schedule.
The 2021 calendar will also see an increase in the number of Saturday fixtures, a day which typically was filled by fixtures in the northern region, with Nenagh, Lismore and Tattersalls moving their fixtures to Saturday’s this year.
That latter will see the Louth Foxhounds from Bellurgan Park to that Co. Meath venue which is home to their autumn fixture each year.
Of the other notable changes, the Wexford Foxhounds return to Ballinaboola on February 7, the Tipperary Foxhounds move into February for one of two spring fixtures at their new extended course at Lisronagh, Belclare moves from mid-March to mid-April as Moira goes into early May, whilst the Kilkenny’s are back at Grennan following the completion of work on the land.
There will also be one new track with the Scarteen's moving across the road from their Kilfeacle track to a new right-handed course at Comea.
All scheduled Point to Point fixtures will adhere to Government guidelines applicable at the time and in line with the Covid-19 Protocols for holding Point to Point meetings, which have been successfully used throughout the Autumn season.
Paul Murtagh, INHSC Registrar, commented: “We were presented with quite a number of operational challenges this year due to the pandemic, and as a result we have had to make a number of changes to the Spring season schedule.
“Traditionally the season would open on 30th December at Duhallow (F) Kanturk at Dromahane but for this year we have had to bring this fixture into the Autumn Season and it will now take place on 20th December. Instead, the opening fixture of the Spring season will take place at United Hunt (F) Lisgoold on 3rd January 2021.
“Also, in Spring 2020 we scheduled 79 meetings over 21 weekends finishing on the traditional June Bank Holiday weekend, whereas this year we have scheduled 78 fixtures spread over 22 weekends yet finishing a week earlier on 30th May 2021 at South Union (F) Kinsale.
“In between we have had to make various other changes to Hunt’s traditional dates and I would like to thank all those Hunt Committees that accepted a move from their traditional date so that we could produce a balanced fixture list with fixtures scheduled appropriately throughout the season.”
Commenting on the Autumn 2020 Season to date and the Spring 2021 fixture list, Martin O’Donnell, Senior Steward of the INHSC. said: “The Stewards of the INHSC would like to compliment all the Hunts that agreed to race behind closed doors this Autumn at a time when there was so much uncertainty.
“We have been delighted with how the Point to Point Community has rallied together and adhered to all the protocols to ensure each fixture could be run off in a safe environment.
“We look forward to the Spring season and again are grateful to those Hunts that have agreed to hold fixtures behind closed doors. Furthermore, we appreciate the flexibility shown by various Hunt Committees in the scheduling of the season.
“We hope that owners and the general public can return to Point to Points before long, but in the meantime it is vital that everyone continues to adhere to all the Protocols and Government guidelines.
“I want to reassure Hunt Committees that the Stewards of the INHSC, the Registrar, Paul Murtagh, and all IHRB staff will continue to assist in every way possible to ensure a successful Spring season.”
To download a copy of a PDF Fixture List, please click HERE.