Curragh back in the black as officials look hopefully to new campaign

Ryan Moore with four rides for Aidan O’Brien as flat season starts on Sunday

 Aidan O’Brien  and Ryan Moore have a busy day on Sunday at the Curragh as the flat season commences.  Photograph:  Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore have a busy day on Sunday at the Curragh as the flat season commences. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

The return of crowds at some point this year is crucial to the Curragh building on a small cash profit of €100,000 in 2020.

Just two days after the wind-up of Cheltenham, the 2021 Irish flat season kicks off at the Curragh on Sunday.

Officials are keeping their fingers crossed for a third Curragh campaign since the €82 million redevelopment of Irish racing’s HQ was officially opened in 2019. Teething problems in that first year was followed by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 with action forced behind closed doors.

That looks set to continue over the coming months although the current Curragh boss Pat Keogh has said he is hopeful last year’s profit – after trading losses from 2015 to 2019 – can be increased in 2021.

“It was a modest cash profit of about €100,000 but it is a significant improvement and changes the colour from red to black. We hope to improve. We’re in the middle of Covid so the exact impact of that this year has yet to play out.

“But the Curragh is on an upward trend and we hope there will another improvement this year and then moving nicely forward when we get crowds back. We won’t see the full impact of all the changes until we get full attendances back.

“It’s very important as we’ve got fantastic facilities and we want people to be able to enjoy them,” he said.

Keogh will depart from his post when the appointment of a new chief executive for the Curragh is finalised. He said that appointment is likely to be “another few months” yet.

He also said a solution has been found to the distinctive ‘whistling’ sound that the spectacular Curragh stand produces when strong winds are coming from a certain direction.

Acoustic matting

“It is caused by perforations in the roof so we will put on the other side acoustic matting for the whole roof.

“It has been tested and we are working it through with the developers and our designers to have it implemented. We are working towards having it in place in the next couple of months,” Keogh said.

Ryan Moore’s visits to Ireland were severely restricted by the pandemic last year but he is wasting no time in making up for that with four rides for Aidan O’Brien on Sunday.

They include Duke Of Mantua, topweight for the Madrid Handicap.

Colin Keane’s new link with Dermot Weld, when he isn’t required by Ger Lyons, sees the champion jockey ride three for the Curragh trainer on Sunday.

Keane made the most of a Breeders Cup ‘spare’ on Weld’s Tarnawa when memorably winning the $4 million Turf at Keeneland in November.

Keane is on Maker Of Kings for Lyons in Sunday’s featured €90,000 Paddy Power Irish Lincolnshire.

However on testing ground conditions it could be last year’s Madrid winner In From The Cold who emerges on top for jockey Gary Carroll.

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