Number of mixed racing cards for 2018 season cut to 19
HRI announce 363 meetings will be held in Ireland next year - an all-time record
Brian Kavanagh, CEO, Horse Racing Ireland: “The 2018 fixture will feature the highest number of race meetings staged in Ireland to date.” Photograph: Robbie Reynolds
Day three of the 2017 Listowel festival features the sort of mixed card which won’t be seen as much on Ireland’s racecourses in 2018.
Next year’s fixtures list has been released by Horse Racing Ireland and a total of 363 meetings on the 2018 programme will be an all-time record in this country. However the number of meetings containing both flat and National Hunt races will be reduced from 28 to 19 and only three of them will be staged outside festival meetings such as Listowel.
HRI says the move is to aid with staffing at meetings and to reduce costs for trainers and jockeys. HRI’s chief executive, Brian Kavanagh, also said the decision was made to accommodate a request by the Irish Stable Staff Association.
“The 2018 fixture will feature the highest number of race meetings staged in Ireland to date,” said Kavanagh. “In recognition of the additional workload this will place on those working in the industry, HRI has increased to five the number of Sundays with no flat racing during the summer months to give stable staff some welcome breaks.”
As expected the Curragh will stage 18 fixtures – once again using temporary facilities during its €70 million rebuild – in a truncated season running from May 11th to September 16th.
That final date will be the second leg of ‘Irish Champions Weekend’ which will have the same format as this year with Leopardstown racing on the Saturday beforehand.
The Co Dublin track will stage its new two-day National Hunt festival featuring the Irish Champion Hurdle and Irish Gold Cup on February 3rd-4th.
Tuesday’s Listowel feature is the €55,000 four-year-old handicap hurdle where the Triumph Hurdle fourth Ex Patriot tops the weights.
On The Go Again has lived up to his name since last running over flights, being kept busy on the flat this summer and scooping three races including his last two. With a 7lb claim he gets a lot of weight from the topweight on testing ground.
Ground conditions won’t be a problem for Fair Game who lines up for the seven furlong handicap. What could be a problem is another slow start of the sort which ruined her chance at Roscommon behind Youceeyouceecee and Stoked recently.
Fair Game won over course and distance last year off a higher mark and if Kevin Manning gets her to break adequately she can take advantage of a low draw.
Willie Mullins’s two-year-old Maze Runner can step up from his Leopardstown debut and is bred to go on soft going.