Irish Derby switched to saturday for 2012
Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) yesterday revealed a revamped fixture list for 2012, tailoring the schedule to allow some of the biggest races to be better marketed.
The single most significant alteration to the programme is the switch of the Irish Derby from its traditional Sunday slot to a late Saturday afternoon card. It will be the first time since 1987 that The Curragh's premier Classic will be held on a Saturday, as the Group One Pretty Polly Stakes moves in the opposite direction.
It is hoped that the timing of the Derby later in the afternoon will give the race a higher television profile.
"We believe that a Saturday late afternoon Derby will have major benefits, facilitating its growth as the social occasion of the summer season and bringing it to a prime-time TV audience, which will further raise its profile and attract new people," said Curragh manager Paul Hensey.
The Irish Champion Stakes will also now form part of a late afternoon programme at Leopardstown on Saturday September 8, while The Curragh's Moyglare Stud Stakes fixture, usually held in late August, has been pushed back to Sunday September 9 to form the second leg of what HRI intend to promote as a weekend of top-class racing.
In a similar variation, Leopardstown's two big January fixtures, which feature the MCR and Champion Hurdles respectively, have been brought together to make a two-day meeting at the end of the month on January 28 and 29.
With the addition of 13 new all-weather cards at Dundalk between January and March, the number of fixtures increases by that number to 349. However, in an effort to maximise off-course betting opportunities, those fixtures have been spread out more to create 25 extra racing days, leaving just 74 blank days all year.
The Flat race summer season will officially start at The Curragh on March 25 next and conclude at Leopardstown on November 4.