Taoiseach opens redeveloped €81m Curragh racecourse stand
Four-tiered building catering for up to 6,000 people has been named The Aga Khan Stand
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: ‘The Government invested over €36 million in the two-year project which made up about 40 per cent of the total cost.’ Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
The racecourse’s centrepiece – a four-tiered stand catering for up to 6,000 people – has been named The Aga Khan Stand after the man who has been a driving force behind the revamp for the last two decades.
Speaking alongside the wealthy royal and horse breeder, the Taoiseach paid tribute to the historic importance of the Kildare racecourse.
“Irish racing fans have long been able to see some of the very best racehorses in the world compete here. Now, thanks to this development, the facilities on this side of the rail will match the action on the track.
“The Government invested over €36 million in the two-year project which made up about 40 per cent of the total cost,” he said in an opening ceremony featuring an Air Corp flyover.
Great trip to the Curragh today to officially open the new stand, which is world class. Irish racing fans have long been able to see some of the best racehorses in the world compete here. Now the facilities on the other side of the running rail will match the action on the track. pic.twitter.com/6icSQ0Clj9— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) May 26, 2019
Kildare South TD, Martin Heydon, said the cost of the redevelopment was a “crucial investment” that will boost the local economy of Kildare.
“It’s a fantastic day for us here in Kildare,” said the Fine Gael TD. “We have had the home of flat racing here and to be honest the facilities for the punter hasn’t been up to scratch. Today we are putting that wrong to right.”
As winds of close to 30km/h sliced through the Aga Khan stand, spectators were bewildered by a whistling noise coming from the stadium’s 7,000 square metre roof.
The whistling was a surprise to Curragh chairman, Padraig McManus, who said it was not an “intentional” feature of the ¤81 million “world-class” building.
“It was something that we were not expecting, but we are working with architects to find a solution,” said Mr McManus, adding: “So if you want to hear the whistling in the stand you better come quickly because it’s going to be gone soon.”
Mr McManus also expressed his regret at the death of a horse which slipped up in the opening race of the day. Red Assembly sustained a shoulder injury, which meant it had to be put down. “It was certainly a shock,” Mr McManus said.
“It is very unusual in flat racing and very unfortunate for us to lose a horse today.”
As well as the stand, the two-year Curragh project has yielded refurbished stable yards and parade ring, as well as bespoke facilities including conference capabilities and restaurants. The gallops which are located across the Curragh plains have been upgraded too.
The historic Queen’s Room, which was relocated as a standalone feature and reassembled block by block from the old stand, now overlooks the large parade ring.