Irish Champions Weekend to welcome crowds of 4,000 each day

Racecourses will be able to welcome 50 per cent of outdoor capacity from Monday

A crowd of 4,000 will be permitted for both days of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and the Curragh. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

A crowd of 4,000 will be permitted for both days of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and the Curragh. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

On the back of Tuesday’s Government easing of Covid-19 restrictions, Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has confirmed that the first significant spectator attendances at racecourses in almost 18 months can begin next week.

Racecourses will be able to welcome attendances of up 50 per cent of outdoor capacity from this Monday.

As well as being permitted to admit up to 50 per cent of outdoor capacity racecourses can also use 60 per cent of their indoor capacity for hospitality if attendees consuming food and drink produce their Digital Covid Vaccine Cert.

The move comes in time for the start of Monday’s September fixture in Galway but crucially also before next week’s Irish Champions Weekend which takes place at Leopardstown and the Curragh.

A limit of 4,000 spectators has been put in place for each of the two legs of Irish Flat racing’s showpiece event of the year.

Both Leopardstown and the Curragh will be mixed outdoor events with access to the indoor spaces for those with proof of vaccination.

Tickets for Champions Weekend go on sale on Friday to those who have registered their interest in advance. Remaining tickets will be on general sale from Monday.

Later this month the seven-day Listowel festival will have a capacity limit of 2,000 and it will be an outdoor-only event.

There has been a limit of 500 spectators at tracks in Ireland in recent months, although 1,000 were permitted in pilot events at the Irish Derby in June and each day of the Galway summer festival.

Full crowds have been allowed on tracks in England since July. A similar situation is planned to occur here when all restrictions are lifted on October 22nd.

HRI’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh said on Thursday: “It has been a very difficult 18 months for everybody in society, and racing can be proud of the way it has come through it. However, without racegoers, racing has been missing one of its essential ingredients.

“Like many industries, there is still much work to do, but there is now real progress and forward steps to normality.

“Welcoming back racegoers in measured but increasing numbers, is one of those steps and from Monday, Irish racecourses will be free to use 50 per cent of their capacity to allow racegoers back on the track in real numbers.

“This good news comes just in time for some of our most important race meetings: the Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and the Curragh on September 11th and September 12th, and Listowel’s Harvest Festival which begins on Sunday, September 19th.

Normally Leopardstown can take crowds of up to 18,000 while the revamped Curragh was designed to cater for up to 30,000.

Kavanagh said capacity is at the discretion of individual tracks, including the 4,000 limit put in place for the two legs of Champions Weekend.

In both cases he said it was debatable if that could have been more given the new rules set out by Government on Tuesday.

“It depends on the outdoor-indoor mix of things. The capacity of bars and restaurants will be significantly reduced in all these racecourses.

“It will build up in time. We’re talking about an event 10 days away. I heard a similar discussion this morning about the GAA where for the All-Ireland final on Saturday week they had capacity to go to 75 per cent of the stadium.

“But there are logistics involved. You’ve got to be practical. Courses haven’t staged any crowds of any size for 18 months,” he said.

Croke Park will be half-full for Saturday week’s All-Ireland final.

Kavanagh also stressed the “hybrid” nature of attending a racecourse.

“By having an outdoor event at 50 per cent capacity you have to put on loos, put on catering, put on food and beverage. In racecourses they’re all generally indoors. And the indoor activities are restricted because of the Fáilte Ireland guidelines.

“If racecourses were just outdoor, like a stadium is, they could operate up to 50 per cent. If you wanted to restrict it to vaccinated only it could be up to 75 per cent. But because racecourses are mixed outdoor and indoor then each course will set its number,” he commented.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.