Current CEO of Horse Racing Ireland, Brian Kavanagh, has since launched a stern defence of the Curragh after criticism had been directed towards the track after only 5,370 people attended the 2nd day of the Irish champions Weekend.
Kavanagh strongly suggests that the course should be kept open to the public whilst the entire racecourse undergoes a massive revamp, one which will make it the most expensive refurbishment in Irish racing history.
With the fixture list being revealed earlier this week, it was revealed that Curragh would host 18 out of the 363 fixtures, which in itself is a record amount of fixtures, for next year’s season.
The disappointing turn out on Sunday was a 43 per cent decrease compared to the same event that took place on the course last year. Despite this, Kavanagh has stated that it isn’t fair to compare the disappointing turnout at Curragh to the 8,319 capacity crowd that turned up at Leopardstown, just one day before.
On the comparisons, he said:
“It’s not fair to compare crowds at Leopardstown and the Curragh,”
“They’re not two equal sides of the coin. It’s simply not a fair match. One racecourse has decent facilities and the other has facilities that are simply not as good right now.
“As I’ve said all along with the Curragh, it’s short-term pain for long-term gain. I’m absolutely certain that the Curragh’s attendance will be similar to the Leopardstown crowd once the redevelopment has been completed.
“The weather provided a big challenge on Sunday as there were some belting-down showers, but I genuinely think the managers of both tracks deserve great credit for the show they put on.
“I thought the racing was strong and to have so many runners and winners from Britain was great. You saw Caravaggio winning the Flying Five on Sunday – that race could not have taken place at Leopardstown, and we’ve aspirations of upgrading that to Group 1 status going forward.”
It has been announced that the Irish Champions Weekend will be help on the 15th and 16th of September 2018, but there will be a clash with England’s St Leger at Doncaster on the same day as day one of the Irish Champions Weekend.
Come the summertime, there will also be 5 Sundays that will not feature any flat racing, something that a number of trainers have criticised.
One of the trainers who has criticised this matter is was Ger Lyons, who stated:
“There’s a serious lack of opportunities for good quality horses in Ireland. If HRI were so concerned about stable staff, why on earth are we racing until after 9pm on Friday nights in freezing conditions during winter?”
Speaking about the record number of fixtures in 2018, CEO of HRI said: “You have to look at the fixture list overall and I believe there’s something for everybody. I’m very happy with it, and the board feel it’s very appropriate.
“I’ve no doubt we have the horse population to cope with the rise in fixtures and there will now be more opportunities for everyone.
“With regard to mixed meetings falling from 28 to 19, it was important to consider stable staff and cater for them too. That’s the reason for the five blank Sundays for Flat racing during the summer as well.”