Sunday 22 April 2018

Record number of meetings next year

A record 363 meetings will be staged in Ireland next year. (stock image)
A record 363 meetings will be staged in Ireland next year. (stock image)

Thomas Kelly

A record 363 meetings will be staged in Ireland next year.

Ballinrobe, Bellewstown, Cork, Dundalk, Galway, Killarney, Naas, Navan and Punchestown have been allocated an additional fixture, while Tipperary will lose the industry fixture which they staged in 2017 as they are allocated on a temporary basis and reviewed annually.

The Curragh will stage 18 fixtures, once again using temporary facilities, during a truncated season from May 11 to September 16, ending with the second day of the Irish Champions Weekend, with the first day at Leopardstown as normal.

There will be five Sundays without Flat racing during the summer months to ease the workload for stable staff during the busiest months of the year.

The Sunday before Christmas (December 23) has been left blank at the request of the Irish Stable Staff Association.

As previously announced, Leopardstown will stage a new two-day National Hunt festival on the weekend of February 3-4, featuring the Irish Champion Hurdle and the Irish Gold Cup.

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The two races usually feature at separate meetings and were two weeks apart this year.

The number of mixed meetings has been reduced from 28 to 19, of which only three will now be staged outside Festival meetings.

Announcing next year's schedule, which will see 325 meetings run on turf (up seven) and 38 on all-weather tracks (up one), Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: "It is great to be able to develop the festivals at Bellewstown and Killarney and create a new one at Galway over the October Bank Holiday weekend. It's a great credit to the racecourses in question."

Irish Independent

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