Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Derby stays at Curragh during facelift

HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh. Photo: Martin Nolan
HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh. Photo: Martin Nolan

Johnny Ward

There is no chance of the Irish Derby being moved from the Curragh, says HRI, despite a dramatically reduced 2017 capacity for the course's big day.

Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh has defended the inconvenience of just 6,000 racegoers being permitted to witness this year's race due to health and safety reasons. Over 18,000 attended last year's event.

The same crowd limit will apply for the second leg of the Irish Champions Weekend, as the headquarters of Flat racing works through year one of a €65m redevelopment.

Kavanagh said: "The decision was made almost two years ago that the Curragh would continue to race during the construction period with a truncated season from May to September.

"The reason is the importance of the Curragh track - especially the straight track - to the Irish Flat programme. The shortage of sprint tracks, and that the Curragh can cater for up to 30 runners over distances up to a mile, meant that relocating the major Curragh races elsewhere would not be feasible.

"Leopardstown, Galway, Punchestown and Fairyhouse are the other courses with a capacity similar to the Curragh. None has a straight track and races over six to eight furlongs would have very restricted safety limits.

"No doubt there will be short-term pain for long-term gain; however, with quality temporary facilities and big screens, the Curragh will provide a good experience. It is the existing facilities that are not fit for purpose."

Meanwhile, Cue Card - not Native River - is the chief threat to their stablemate Thistlecrack in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, the market leader's jockey Tom Scudamore said yesterday.

Irish Independent

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