Local racetracks roll out figures
HORSE Racing Ireland are currently in the throes of another major racing promotion across the country and last Thursday a very informative get-together of all those involved with the four courses in the North West of the country took place in the Roscommon.Racing journalists from the print and broadcast media met with representatives from the four courses in question – Ballinrobe, Kilbeggan, Roscommon and Sligo – and the mood was one of general optimism about the state of racing in the region.The four aforementioned courses attract attendances of over 120,000 people each year to their 31 fixtures and prizemoney for the many owners and trainers out there rose to over €2.5 million. The combined attendance at these tracks grew by over 5% last year which is well ahead of the national average.HRI representatives stated that the aim of the media lunch was to bring the racecourse managers and local media operators together, along with tourism interests and public representatives, to review the position of Irish racing today and, in particular, to look at the contributions of these four tracks to the overall success story of Irish racing.
“Irish horse racing is enjoying a golden era in terms of its popularity with the public and its success on the track,” stated Mr Michael O’Rourke, Marketing Director of HRI.
“The 1.43 million total attendance at last year’s meetings all over the country was an all-time record and the major racing festivals continue to break records year after year. Ten winners at Cheltenham and the Aintree Grand National, amongst countless other victories, made this the best National Hunt season ever.
“The local tracks of Ballinrobe, Kilbeggan, Roscommon and Sligo also have a unique role to play. They continue to upgrade their facilities, with €5 million assistance from HRI, providing modern amenities without losing the local atmosphere and sense of place that makes them so successful,” added Mr O’Rourke.
Guest of honour at the successful get-together was racehorse trainer Pat Martin, who has enjoyed regular success at all the North West tracks and he spoke about his experience of running horses at these four courses.
Other notable guests in attendance Senator Mary O’Rourke, Senator Frank Feighan, John Flannelly, manager of Ballinrobe Racecourse; Paddy Dunican, manager of Kilbeggan Racecourse; Michael Finneran, manager of Roscommon Racecourse and Brian Kennedy, manager of Sligo Racecourse.
All four courses have upcoming meetings in the next few weeks and large crowds are once again expected as everyone checks out the form for the big Galway Festival, which starts on July 31.
OF COURSE last week saw some top quality action take place at the newly designed Royal Ascot and Westport born jockey Ted Durcan will take away some great memories after becoming the first jockey to ride a winner at the newly designed course.
He was aboard Brian Smart’s Hellvelyn to take the Coventry Stakes last Tuesday and he will now be hoping for more success at the rest of the big meetings this season.
There are plenty of high profile races in both Ireland and England at the weekend but the Newcastle Northumberland meeting starts on Thursday and Henry Candy’s Summer’s Eve is taken to score in the listed Hoppings Stakes. She has some nice form in the book behind horses of the calibre of The Last Drop and Sindirana and he is taken to account for Godoplhin’s new recruit Pictavia.
On Friday, the Curragh’s Derby weekend gets underway with an evening meeting and the one they have to beat in the listed Woodpark and Ballysheehan Stakes in David Wachman’s Chanting. She readily beat Aidan O’Brien’s Duke of Marmalade at Leopardstown and she should be good enough to defeat Drifting Snow and The Real Thing.
The big race at the Curragh on Saturday is the Pretty Polly Stakes and the favourite will probably be last year’s winner Alexander Goldrun but Aidan O’Brien’s Queen Cleopatra ran really well in the 1,000 Guineas and should appreciate this step up in trip.
The big race of the day in England is the Northumberland Plate and this can go to the unexposed Signatory from the John Gosden yard who won in fine style on his handicap debut and still looks to be on a decent mark. The in form Jimmy Fortune is likely to ride.
On Sunday, the English Summer National takes place at Uttoxeter and Sweet Diversion from the Paul Nicholls yard should take all the beating, although he is unlikely to have the help of Ruby Walsh who is getting married the following day (Monday).
Finally, the Irish Derby is undoubtedly the race of the weekend but the withdrawals of Hala Bek, Linda’s Lad and Visindar have taken the shine of what looked a vintage renewal. Dylan Thonas is probably the pick of the O’Brien bunch but Best Alibi is taken to win for the inform Michael Stoute. This King’s Best colt ran a blinder in sixth at Epsom despite hanging left for most of the way. He could provide jockey Ryan Moore with one of his biggest victories.
3.50, Newcastle, Summer’s Eve
7.00, The Curragh, Chanting
3.20, The Curragh, Network Signatory
3.40, The Curragh, Queen of Cleopatra
3.50, The Curragh, Best Alibi
4.25, Uttoxeter, Sweet Diversion
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