Ex-European rugby chief to run Curragh Racecourse

Role will include overseeing €65 millionredevelopment

Former European rugby chief, Derek McGrath, is to oversee the planned €65 million redevelopment of the Curragh Racecourse, Ireland's premier flat track.

Curragh Racecourse Ltd said on Tuesday that it has appointed Mr McGrath as chief executive of the company, which will own, operate and redevelop the racecourse and training grounds in Co Kildare.

Mr McGrath was chief executive of European Rugby Cup Ltd from 2000 to 2009, when he was responsible for the the club rugby competitions, the Heineken and Amlin Challenge cups.

In his new role he will oversee the redevelopment of the Curragh, a €65 million project that will include a new grandstand, weighing room, parade ring and stable yard.


The plans also provide for a new arrivals area that will incorporate a museum of Irish racing. Work is due to be finished by 2018 and the track hopes that racing will continue during this period.

State body Horseracing Ireland (HRI) and a group of private investors are backing the project, which the company hopes can be completed without borrowing money.

The private investors are the Aga Khan, owner of Giltown Stud, Eva-Maria Bucher Haefner of Moyglare Stud, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and John Magnier, of Coolmore Stud, Godolphin Ireland, the racing and breeding operation founded by Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, JP McManus and Derrinstown Stud.

They, along with HRI and the sport's regulator, the Turf Club, are shareholders in Curragh Racecourse Ltd. Former ESB chief executive, Padraig McManus, chairs the company.

Curragh Racecourse Ltd took over the venue on January 1st. The company hopes to attract further private investors.

Mr McGrath originally qualified as a vet and played senior international rugby for Ireland.

The Curragh stages 19 meetings between March and October every year and is home to the Irish Derby, along with nine other races at the highest - or group one - level.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas