King George hammer blow with Irish horses BANNED from travelling to Kempton under new mutant coronavirus restrictions

IRISH racing has been dealt a hammer blow after it was confirmed NONE of their runners can travel for the King George Chase on Boxing Day.

Monalee is among the star names to miss out on the Kempton Christmas meet.

It comes after Ireland extended its travel ban on Britain until December 31 in light of the new mutant strain of coronavirus.

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Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: "Based on the government's policy, HRI has instructed that there will be no Irish runners in the UK or UK runners in Ireland between now and December 31.

"The only exceptions to that ban are for essential supply chains and services.

"It's unfortunate but there are bigger issues at play. However it was pleasing that the government did announce that racing will continue behind closed doors, which gives us some certainty."

The Henry de Bromhead-trained Monalee – beaten less than two lengths in March's Gold Cup – was an 8-1 shot to land one of the biggest races on the calendar.

Arkle Trophy winner Put The Kettle On – unbeaten in its last three – was another set to make the journey for a tilt at the Desert Orchid Chase on December 27.

Top class Irish trainers Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins also had entries for the blockbuster Christmas meet.

A number of countries have banned travellers from the UK after a mutant strain of the killer virus was discovered in the south east of England.

And it was already confirmed the Kempton Festival would go behind closed doors in light of a surge of coronavirus cases.

More to follow.

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