Sunday 21 July 2019

Fairyhouse set for bumper Easter meet as advance bookings race ahead


A general view of Fairyhouse Racecourse Photo: Sportsfile
A general view of Fairyhouse Racecourse Photo: Sportsfile

Fearghal O'Connor

This year's Easter Festival and Irish Grand National meeting at Fairyhouse looks set to be a bumper affair.

Advance bookings have risen strongly, showing a 15pc increase on corporate dining and suite bookings and a 19pc increase in advance bookings for online admission tickets.

Tourism numbers are also set to get a boost, with a 12pc increase in UK visitors booking tickets to see the famous racing festival.

Fairyhouse general manager Peter Roe said that Irish racing was on a high after Cheltenham. "The feel-good factor along with high-class horses coming to the festival will make this year's event one of the best ever," he said.

Fairyhouse is one of the largest racetracks in the country, hosting the Boylesports Irish Grand National each Easter Monday, as well as the Ryanair Gold Cup on Easter Sunday. This year's festival will see prize money of €1.55m from sponsors, increased from the €1.4m that was won last year. New sponsors this year include Bank of Ireland, Devenish Nutrition, Rybo and Cawley Furniture.

Last year the prize-fund for the main race rose from €275,000 to €500,000, meaning the Irish Grand National has become the most valuable Irish jumps race, and third richest between Ireland and the UK. Our Duke (pictured with jockey Robbie Power) won last year's Irish Grand National at the Co Meath venue. The Jessica Harrington-owned horse was expected to run in the event again on April 2 but it remains to be seen whether it will after pulling up in last Friday's Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The Easter Festival generates about €4m for the local economy, and Fairyhouse business is worth over €14.5m to local economy over the year, according to the organisers.

Some 30,000 people are expected through the turnstiles over the three days of the festival, with 1,000 visitors expected to travel from the UK for the event.

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