Dissidents cause race event cancellation
Dissidents cause race event cancellation

The St. Stephen’s Day horse-racing meeting at the ‘Down Royal’ course outside Hillsborough in County Down was evacuated on Monday because of a bomb alert.

Thousands of racegoers were evacuated following a telephone warning of a bomb being left at the course. A search was mounted and the event was abandoned.

It was the second meeting in a row hit by a bomb scare.

On November 5 racing had to be abandoned after a warning and the discovery of what an elaborate hoax device in a marquee at the side of the race track. The Continuity IRA was blamed for last month’s hoax and it is understood the same warning code was used to clear the track in the latest incident.

The announcement of an evacuation was made halfway through the opening race after the racecourse received two coded phone calls claiming there was a bomb in the racecourse buildings.

The announcement was made to evacuate all spectators, but the jockeys in the first race did not hear this and rode to a finish.

Down Royal manager Mike Todd said: “It’s unbelievable that this has happened for the second time in just over a month.

“We are determined not to let this beat us and I can tell you that we have scoured every inch of the property since the last scare in November and we were happy that racing could go ahead.

“Sniffer dogs were used and could find nothing which would cause any alarm.”

Racing went ahead on Tuesday, December 27h, on the advice of Horse Racing Ireland.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News