Dundalk breaks new ground by hosting Ireland's first barrier trials
History was made at Dundalk on Sunday, not during the seven-race card but before it, as the track played host to Ireland's first barrier trials.
The two five-furlong 'races' attracted six runners and Jeremy Greene of Irish Thoroughbred Marketing branded the new initiative a success, hoping that demand will rise and sales can be made out of them down the line.
Greene said: "We're happy just to get a start with the trials. We hope that when the dust settles connections will see merit in them and that others might wish to put their horses through them.
"Our brief at ITM is to find more markets for Irish horses and we're missing out on substantial trade with unraced horses, so we'd like to create a platform for that to improve.
"We understand they might take time to bed in and there's a learning curve associated, but we hope we can run them again soon in the near future. Demand from owners and trainers will decide that."
He added: "We'd like to say thanks to the connections and staff who took part today and for giving their time. Thanks also to everyone at Dundalk Stadium, HRI and the IHRB, and to the stalls team, doctors and everyone behind the scenes for helping facilitate this initiative."
Barrier trials, where horses start from stalls in mock races over a specified distance, are widely used in other jurisdictions such as Australia and Hong Kong. They are designed to give young horses racing experience and develop fitness.
The Tom Cleary-trained Hillwalker ran out a comfortable all-the-way winner of the opening heat, in the hands of the trainer's son Rory, while the second was a tighter affair, with Indigo Balance, trained by Jessica Harrington, getting up close home to deny the Charles O'Brien-trained Count D'Orsay.
The next set of barrier trials could take place at Dundalk on Thursday July 12, provided the demand is there.
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