The Government has confirmed horse and greyhound racing aren't due to resume until the 29 June.

The confirmation comes six days after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's announcement of the Government's five-phase plan to ease lockdown restrictions.

Both sports had been hoping they'd be able to resume behind closed doors from 18 May - under Phase One of the Government's roadmap towards lifting public health restrictions. However, the Department of Agriculture has now confirmed horse and greyhound racing falls under Phase Three - which is due to come into force on 29 June.

The proposed resumption date means the first classics of the Irish horse racing season will have to be rearranged; the 2,000 Guineas, 1,000 Guineas and the Irish Derby. Horse Racing Ireland had been hoping to run these races in early June. The Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup will also have to be rescheduled.

In a statement, Horse Racing Ireland intimated it remains hopeful racing will resume behind closed doors before 29 June.

Referencing comments made by the Taoiseach in the Dáil this afternoon, HRI said it would accept an invitation from sectors of the economy wishing to have restrictions earlier than scheduled in the Government's roadmap.

CEO Brian Kavanagh said HRI feels "the industry can safely resume sooner rather than later and will continue to engage with Government on that basis".

Kavanagh also referenced the staging of ten fixtures behind closed doors in mid-March but added  racing will only resume behind closed doors when 'safe and appropriate'.

He said "constructive engagement" had taken place with government in the past week. However, a Department of Agriculture spokesperson rejected suggestions a meeting had been arranged between department and HRI officials for tomorrow.

It's also understood the Department of Agriculture has notified other Government Departments - such as NPHET - of HRI's  proposals to resume racing behind closed doors.

Many within Irish horse racing circles had been expecting a May return date; with racing resuming and due to resume in Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Outdoor activities such as golf and tennis are permitted from 18 May under the Government's plan.

Focus is now set to turn to Phase Two and whether middle ground may be achieved between HRI and Government officials for an 8 June return date. 

Leading trainers John Oxx and Gordon Elliot are among those to warn in recent days of the economic and employment ramifcations of a delayed return date for racing.

Independent Tipperary TD Michael Lowry - who has connections to the powerful Coolmore Stud which is based in his constituency - told today's Racing Post a 29 June return date was "ludicrous".

Others have criticised the lack of comment from Horse Racing Ireland until today.

However, any moves to bring racing forward from a 29 June restart date will prove delicate from a political and public perception perspective. Prominent Labour TD Aodhan O'Rioardain described HRI's decision to stage meetings behind closed doors in March as not in keeping "with the national interest".

In its statement, the Irish Greyhound Board said it very much looks forward to a resumption of greyhound racing and is maintaining all tracks in a 'racing ready' condition. It intends to commence with the undertaking of trials with effect from 8th June 2020 - when Phase Two of the roadmap becomes operative.

It's unclear which, if any, of the IGB's major events may have to be rescheduled, with the blue riband Greyhound Derby slated towards the end of September.