Sport Horse Racing

Friday 18 October 2019

Home of champions: new stand unveiled in the Curragh

Taoiseach and Aga Khan open multimillion euro revamp

Winners all right: A military guard for Mairead Ronan at the opening of the new Curragh Racecourse. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography
Winners all right: A military guard for Mairead Ronan at the opening of the new Curragh Racecourse. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography
Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

A whistling steel roof wasn't enough to deter thousands of racegoers who attended the official opening of the refurbished Curragh Racecourse.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Aga Khan - after whom the new grand stand is named - yesterday opened the redeveloped racecourse in Co Kildare.

CEO of the racecourse, Derek McGrath, said the redevelopment made the Curragh a "beacon" for Irish sport.

However, some of the thousands of punters who attended the official opening were bemused by a loud whistling noise coming from the roof in the wind.

"We have been tracking it for a little while, it was something we picked up while we were building. There is a perforation in the steel which is making it whistle," explained Mr McGrath.

"It is very fixable, it's just when the wind blows in a certain direction."

Jack McCardle (5) from Kill, Co Kildare. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography
Jack McCardle (5) from Kill, Co Kildare. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

Mr Varadkar took a break from the election counts to attend the opening of the new stand and said the Curragh will "continue to be a place where champions are made".

Through Horse Racing Ireland, the State contributed €36,000 to the multi-million euro redevelopment.

Elsewhere, there was plenty of style on the course as racegoers enjoyed the sunny, albeit blustery, conditions.

Making the journey all the way from Manchester were sisters Olivia (25) and Jenny Glynn (27), who had their fingers crossed for a winner.

India and Jodie Hanley from Ballyhea, Co Cork. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography
India and Jodie Hanley from Ballyhea, Co Cork. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

It was a big family occasion for them to attend the opening day of the stadium.

"Our mum and dad come every year - they have been coming for 20 years and our granny is here as well, she is 82," said Olivia.

Olivia looked summery in a green dress - which she hoped would bring her luck on Irish soil.

She also wore a head piece she had made herself.

"I had such a disaster - so many headbands I ordered didn't get delivered, so I ended up buying the band in Claire's Accessories and I stuck a necklace on the top," she said.

Meanwhile, winner of 'Dancing with the Stars' Mairead Ronan soaked up the atmosphere as a Curragh ambassador with her husband Louis.

Irish Independent

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