Weather not a going concern for Leopardstown

Limerick’s Christmas festival looks set to take place on testing conditions, with the going officially ‘heavy’

With so much else disrupted it at least looks like the weather gods will play ball and not present tracks with an unwanted white Christmas.

The long-range forecast is for “much colder” weather next week, but Leopardstown’s authorities are “not particularly concerned” about the second half of their Christmas festival action being affected.

"We had a long call with the Met Office this morning, and we are not particularly concerned. They tell us temperatures (overnight) will be hovering at one or minus one, which shouldn't be a problem by the time we get racing. We are delighted with what they're projecting." said Tim Husbands, the track's chief executive.

The weather's unpredictability at this time of year, however, is underlined by how watering of the steeplechase course at Leopardstown may prove necessary.


The track has been the focus of disquiet at a number of big fixtures in recent years due to quick ground conditions. Last year’s Dublin Racing Festival saw 22 horses taken out of the second day due to the going. Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary was among those critical about a failure to water, and said there was “almost a horse welfare issue” involved.

The chase course was “good to yielding” on Monday, and officials said they were monitoring the situation regarding selective watering.

The hurdles course for the St Stephen’s Day and Sunday action is “yielding” and “yielding to soft” in places.

“There is still plenty of juice in the ground this morning, and the ground on the inner hurdle course, which will be used on days three and four, is definitely more on the yielding to soft side,” reported Leopardstown’s clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer.

A dry outlook is expected over the coming days, although it will turn more unsettled towards the weekend.

“We will monitor the situation regarding a little bit of selective watering on the chase track. If any watering takes place it will be from the winning post around to the three-mile start. I am happy where we are at this stage,” Wyer added.

Testing conditions

The other Christmas festival action at Limerick looks set to take place on testing conditions, with the going there officially “heavy”.

Limerick’s feature event next Tuesday is the Grade 2 Grant Thornton Hurdle, won in 2018 by Espoir D’Allen who went on that season to land the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Henry De Bromhead’s Aspire Tower beat the subsequent Morgiana winner Abacadabras at Down Royal in October, and is one of 10 in the four-year-old only race after Monday’s forfeit stage.

Aspire Tower is also in the Matheson Hurdle against senior opposition likely to again include Abacadabras.

In other news the Denis Hogan-trained Moyheena is the sole Irish hopeful among 20 horses left in Sunday’s Welsh Grand National at Chepstow.

Notre Pere (2008) and Gavin Cromwell’s Raz De Maree (2017) are the only Irish-trained winners of the marathon contest for which local horse Secret Reprieve is a general 9-2 favourite.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column