Fears Ireland coronavirus travel ban could stop horses travelling to Kempton for King George Chase on Boxing Day

FEARS are mounting about Ireland's coronavirus travel ban and whether it will stop horses travelling to Kempton.

The Surrey track holds two days of racing over Christmas, with the feature being the King George Chase on Boxing Day.

Henry de Bromhead's horse Monalee is a leading contender for the big one on December 26.

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But the newly-imposed ban on non-essential travel in response to the mutant coronavirus strain has left trainers in the dark with just days to go.

The Republic of Ireland is one of a number of countries to impose a travel ban on the UK.

Irish Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said the ban was initially for 48 hours, adding that he did not want to give anyone 'false hope that there is likely to be any major change'.

But the situation has left trainers – such as big names Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott – in the dark.

Flights have been suspended and ferries will reportedly be limited only to freight travel.

International horse travel – and travel for jockeys – has continued during lockdown due to the elite sport exemption.

But Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh admitted he did not know what the immediate future brought.

Asked if exemptions would continue, he said: "I don't know. Early indications were that racing wouldn't be impacted, but that's not official.

"Horses were able to travel over and back during the highest level of lockdowns previously, but we will try to find out the detail on Monday."

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