A €20m investment carried out at Leopardstown racecourse during the pandemic is now paying dividends with record attendances at the south Dublin course.
A further major investment masterplan is now being prepared for the entire campus, said Paul Dermody, CEO of HRI Racecourses, the commercial semi state that owns and manages Leopardstown.
The investment, completed during the Covid period, involved major improvements to customer-facing areas, including a new Champagne bar, a coffee area and betting room, facilitated by the relocation of industry facilities such as an old saddling stall.
“We would see it as the first part of a long-term development phase that we would like to implement. We haven’t got that nailed yet but it will incorporate the entire campus of Leopardstown, not just the racecourse.
“It would also include the golf facilities and property holdings located on the campus, which provide income streams for the course.”
Asked could the campus provide opportunities for housing, Dermody said that “as a commercial semi-state organisation under the remit of the Department of Agriculture we understand the housing crisis.
“We want to make sure that HRI or Leopardstown would play a role if asked but we haven’t gotten into any of those discussions as yet. But if you look at what our remit is and what we are trying to do, it is to protect and grow the sport of racing in Ireland.
“The Dublin Racing Festival last month was one of those festivals for the ages, where everything came together,” said Dermody. “It was packed, there was high-quality racing and significant prize money on offer.
Ticket sales revenues were up 58pc on 2022
"But it was also helped by the investments we've made in facilities. Leopardstown is the last remaining racecourse in the capital so this is very much a flagship for the industry and this is about investing in the future of racing.”
The festival had an attendance of almost 35,000, up 40pc from 2022, he revealed. Ticket sales revenues were up 58pc on 2022 and revenue from catering over the two-day weekend festival increased by 71pc. The new figures also reveal that 31pc of the attendees travelled from the UK.