HRI boss Brian Kavanagh to take over as Curragh chief executive in November

Kavanagh steps down from HRI in September after 20 years in top job

The long-serving chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, Brian Kavanagh, will take up a new role as chief executive of the Curragh racecourse in November.

Kavanagh is due to step down from his position at HRI in September after 20 years at the helm of Irish racing’s ruling body.

Controversy greeted Kavanagh’s appointment for a third term in charge of HRI in 2016 when the post wasn’t advertised in open competition and Government guidelines stipulated chief executives of semi-State bodies should be limited to a single term of seven years.

Nevertheless he was appointed for a final five-year term with an annual remuneration package of close to €250,000.

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On Friday it was announced by the board of the Curragh – of which Kavanagh is a member – that he will move to the chief executive role at the track which was redeveloped and reopened in 2019 at a cost of over €80 million.

The board’s chairman, Pádraig McManus, said: “[We] look forward to Brian leading the Curragh as we prepare for racing post-Covid and growing the world-class training ground facilities here.”

Kavanagh will take over from Pat Keogh who was appointed at the Curragh in 2019 when the former chief executive Derek McGrath stepped down in contentious circumstances.

McGrath, who had overseen the largest capital project in Irish racing history during a three-year period, appeared to clash with Kavanagh on the back of a controversial Irish Derby fixture in 2019.

At the time, McGrath said he believed there was a failure among stakeholders and shareholders to “integrate behind a shared vision for what we want the Curragh to be”.

Kavanagh was one of the main movers behind the redevelopment at the Curragh and was formerly manager of the world-renowned track between 1994 and 1999.

Prior to that he was the Turf Club’s financial controller.

No decision has yet been taken on who will replace Kavanagh in the role of HRI chief executive after he steps down.