Curragh gears up for first Classic test of its temporary facilities

Problems identified at season’s first meeting are being addressed

Curragh officials are gearing up for this weekend’s first classic test of temporary facilities put in place during the track’s €70 million redevelopment.

Although the 6,000 crowd limit imposed under planning regulations is not expected to be an issue until July’s Derby, an international spotlight will still be on Irish racing’s HQ for the triple-Group 1 Tattersalls Guineas festival.

Just over a week ago the first meetings of a restricted summer programme were run at the Curragh and the track’s chief executive Derek McGrath said problems which arose then are being addressed.

“The spotlight will be on the racing and on the track and the feedback we got from industry professionals at the first weekend was positive. So on that front it will be more of the same,” McGrath said.


“From a public point of view the big negative was traffic and parking. So we’re working on signage and have met with the Gardai to try and improve things. That’s been an important part of our review.

“Internally there were some technical issues and we have put in more coverage in the garden area. Although, as Ireland does, we may not need it this weekend,” he added.

Horse Racing Ireland's chief executive Brian Kavanagh said on Tuesday the Guineas fixtures will be a "better test" of the Curragh's facilities but was happy with how they performed earlier this month.

“Everyone knew the facilities would be restricted but I thought they performed well the first day. They’ll get a better test now but the focus will be on the track and the straight Curragh mile which is world renowned,” he said.

Declarationofpeace, one of the favourites for next month’s Coventry at Royal Ascot, is one of 14 entries left in Saturday’s Listed Marble Hill Stakes.

The race was won by the subsequent Coventry winner Caravaggio a year ago and Declarationofpeace was an impressive six length maiden winner at Dundalk earlier this month.

Wednesday's Irish action is at Wexford where last season's champion conditional jockey Rachel Blackmore has a handful of promising rides beginning with Julie's Luck in the opener. Platinum Empress from the in-form Liam Cusack stable also looks to have sound claims in the mares handicap.

The 2015 Albert Bartlett runner-up Milsean has his third run for Gordon Elliott in the Beginners Chase and the trainer can also pick up the other chase on the card with Dawerann. Davy Russell's mount enjoys a weight swing with his Roscommon conqueror Patricks Park.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column