Horse Racing Ireland has published the fixture list for 2024 which will see the overall number of fixtures increase to 395 while also extending the industry breaks in winter and summer, and maintaining six blank Sundays.

The total of 395 fixtures is an increase of five on the 2023 total of 390 fixtures, and is introduced at a time when Horses in Training numbers are up 2% year-on-year.

All but four of the 395 fixtures have been allocated, with the remainder retained as floating fixtures to be utilized during the year to deal with time periods when there is very high demand for opportunities to run from the horse population.

Six turf fixtures have been added to the 2024 fixture list, initially on a one-year basis, and will held at Punchestown (Bank Holiday Monday February 5), the Curragh (Saturday April 6), Bellewstown & Down Royal (both Sunday April 14), Wexford (Wednesday August 7) and Roscommon (Monday October 14).

The winter break for all Flat industry participants has been extended by nine days, from 12 to 21, from December 22 2023 to January 12 2024, meaning that there will be two less All Weather fixtures scheduled in 2024.

The summer break in the National Hunt season has also been extended by two days from 12 to 14 days.

The six blank Sundays will be on April 28, June 23, July 14, July 28, September 8 and December 22.

The Flat season will start slightly earlier than previously with a Curragh fixture on Bank Holiday Monday March 18 and will conclude, also at the Curragh, on Sunday November 3.

“Horse Racing Ireland is very conscious of the extra demands being placed on all those working in the industry by the increasing fixture list and hence why, following consultation, the Fixtures Committee has extended the break periods under both codes,” said Jason Morris, HRI’s Director of Racing and Strategic Projects.

“There will now be a 3-week gap over the Christmas and New Year period for the Flat, and a full two week break for the National Hunt sector in June/July. We have also retained the number of blank Sundays at six.”

“I am delighted that the HRI Fixtures Committee continues to place participant well-being to the fore,” added Jennifer Pugh, Chief Medical Officer IHRB.

“We remain one of few sports without an ‘off’ season thereby making it impossible for jockeys, who are self-employed, to take a break without being at a loss, either financially or in terms or opportunities.”

“Our sportspeople are also in the unique position of working each day alongside being a professional sportsperson, as they ride out and school daily before going to compete at a race meeting; these long hours, managing weight and dealing with frequent injuries takes a toll both mentally and physically.”