Leopardstown Racecourse


Sir, _ It is now reported that "a deal" has been done between the Irish Horseracing Authority, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and the National Roads Authority to make way for the South Eastern Motorway (The Irish Times. August 8th). Apparently, the IHA will receive a multi-million-pound package and other land in compensation - but nobody is prepared to reveal the detail.

Why? Leopardstown, as it currently stands, is one of the top racecourses in these islands. Next month it will host in the Champion Stakes the re-match of Galileo and Fantastic Light, which is eagerly awaited by the entire racing world. The course was sold to the old Racing Board for a bargain basement price by the Clarke family - with the understanding that it would continue to be used for racing. It subsequently passed into the hands of the Irish Horseracing Authority under the control of the Minister for Agriculture. It therefore belongs to the Irish people.

Sean Barrett TD recently made a public statement about the impending "destruction" of Dublin's one remaining racecourse by the motorway. He called for a stop to the current plans and a re-routing "through the tipheads at Ballyogan".

As the one body which has been continuously campaigning on this subject since 1997 (we put our objections and recommendations on the record at the public inquiry in Dun Laoghaire on January 23rd, 1998), we now fully support Mr Barrett's proposal.

But who will publish this? My colleagues and I are amazed that, to our knowledge, not one national newspaper has taken up the call for the preservation of this great inheritance. The eleventh hour has arrived! Does anybody else care? - Yours, etc.,

Kevin G.A. Smith, President, The Racing Club of Ireland, Newbridge, Co Kildare.