Curragh redevelopment plans revealed later this month

Current projections suggest an 18-month build beginning at the end of 2016 season

Curragh racecourse: plans are afoot for a €55 million redevelopment.  Photograph: inpho.

Curragh racecourse: plans are afoot for a €55 million redevelopment. Photograph: inpho.

 

The Curragh’s 2015 programme winds up today but the focus on Irish racing’s HQ isn’t over with long-awaited plans for its €55million redevelopment set to be revealed before the end of this month.

Ahead of the planning process, current projections continue to be for an 18-month build, beginning at the end of the 2016 Curragh programme with a full official opening of the racecourse’s much anticipated facelift possibly ready for the 2018 Derby.

Although officials are ideally aiming to run a full programme of fixtures through 2017, they aren’t ruling out a partially truncated 2017 fixture list should logistical and engineering requirements make it necessary.

“Our key meetings every year are from the Guineas festival through to Champions Weekend. They will be run and we will aim for our fixtures to be run off in full during 2017,” the Curragh manager Paul Hensey said.

“But depending on what a contractor’s needs might be . . . we could possibly look at a truncated 2017 season. ”

Hensey pointed to the ratings average of the Group One races run in 2015 as evidence of a quality season.

“All of our races are rating above the required parameters. It was a very good Derby with Jack Hobbs, and having Gleneagles for the 2,000 Guineas was marvellous. The Champions Weekend races rated very highly. The two juvenile races will probably produce Europe’s champion two year old colt and two year old filly in Air Force Blue and Minding and I’d say Order Of St George could possibly be the champion stayer.

“We’d be hopeful of getting the Flying Five up to Group One in the not-too-distant future and the Blandford stakes rated above the Group One parameter as a Group Two race this year so it’s all very positive,” he said.

Highland Reel, fifth in last June’s Irish Derby, has since graduated to top-flight status with a Grade One1 win in America. His full brother Idaho makes his debut in today’s mile maiden and in a race where Theodorico sets an official 82 rated standard the Ballydoyle newcomer looks interesting.

Another notable newcomer could be Brooch’s half-sister Raymonda in the opening fillies maiden but a pair of full sisters will clash in the five furlong handicap with last Wednesday’s Navan winner Daisy Bell fancied to get the better of her older sibling Chiclet.

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