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Showing true colours to build fan appeal

A LOT of Irish racecourses do things very well, including developing new initiatives to get people through the turnstiles.

ONE day in the calendar that is very popular, albeit a while away yet, is the pre-Cheltenham meeting at Leopardstown, when a number of our hopefuls for the Cotswolds head up to Foxrock for their last serious blow-out before the week that is deemed as horseracing’s Olympics.

Many trainers use the opportunity and Willie Mullins regularly fills a lorry or two as racegoers stay behind, on what is annually a bitterly cold day, to catch a glimpse of some of the horses that will be gracing the championship races a week and a half later.

It was while watching Frankel have his final racecourse gallop last Saturday, ahead of his final racecourse start later this month, that a thought came into my head.

Tom Queally rode Frankel in the piece of work and while doing so, he also wore the colours that are associated with this great horse, making it easier for racegoers to identify him throughout.

In that gallop, Frankel was joined by two other horses with Bullet Train’s rider Danny Dunnachie and Specific Gravity’s jockey Shane Fetherstonhaugh wearing the colours of that horse’s owners, the Niachros family.

Surely this is something that Leopardstown could now look at encouraging, and indeed any racecourse who are going to have gallopers after racing.

There is no doubt that the pre-Cheltenham meeting at Leopardstown is better attended due to these household names galloping after racing and the fact that most of them are ridden by jockeys who are already riding at the meeting, surely it would be easy to throw in a set of Gigginstown’s colours and stick them on Davy Russell as he rides Sir Des Champs for example or George Creighton’s as Ruby goes around on Hurricane Fly.

The lads in the weighroom may feel a bit silly wearing colours to ride in a bit of work, but at the end of the day we have to do whatever we can to make the sport as appealing to the public as we can and perhaps this is just one way worth looking at.