Ahead of Irish Champions Weekend, the Association of Irish Racecourses (AIR) wish the very best of luck to all involved, especially their member teams at Leopardstown and the Curragh Racecourses.
Longines Irish Champions Weekend has become the pinnacle of the Irish flat racing season, with all the ingredients present to make for a top-class festival of racing. Worth €4.15 million in total prize money this year, with champions crowned in each division from two-year-old fillies and colts to star sprinters and stayers, and no less than six Group 1 races over the two days, there really is something on the menu for everyone.
Updated guidelines have allowed for indoor dining at racecourses where the facilities allow such activity, and where Failte Ireland Covid-19 hospitality guidelines can be put in place.
Every racecourse in the country is a member of AIR. However, protocols and procedures, as well as offerings and facilities, vary. Industry personnel and spectators are advised to check the updated information on the specific website of the racecourse when planning a visit to ensure you are abreast of recent changes to protocols or requirements.
Some racecourses, with the resources available to do so, are offering hospitality and dining packages once again. These just might be a really lovely treat for many of us who are now returning to racecourses for the first time in far too long, and for that reason might like to make the day a little extra special. Each racecourse will have information on their websites, and updates on social media, in relation to their current offerings.
Typically, hospitality packages at racecourses includes admission tickets, racecards, a reserved table for the day, lunch, trackside viewing, CCTV screens and a remarkable mix of relaxed dining. You can catch up with friends and family while enjoying a day at the races, so what’s not to love about it?
Some racecourses are not in a position to offer indoor hospitality, but at all racecourses there are ample outdoor food and beverage facilities. Patrons are encouraged to support the on-site vendors on their visits whenever possible.
Owners attending race meetings should note the following update. The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s senior medical officer, Dr Jennifer Pugh, has confirmed that owners no longer need to inform the ownership department of Horse Racing Ireland if they are bringing children racing, and that children will no longer be counted as part of the owner ticket allocation. Amber Byrne, the ownership development manager at HRI, has amended correspondence which is sent to owners at declaration stage to reflect this change.
In a recent communication to all racecourses, individual tracks have been invited to share any racecourse specific information they would like given to owners via HRI direct communications. It goes out well in advance of entry and declaration stage to ensure the communication circulated is on point.
Speaking of the importance of managing expectations of our racegoers, AIR’s CEO Paddy Walsh said: “It is important to note that the protocols are almost as unique as the individual tracks themselves at our members’ 26 racecourses. Everyone is doing their utmost to ensure the very best customer experience possible is enjoyed during this graduated reopening phase, and the current set of Covid-19 guidelines we work with. In the interest of ease of admission and an overall enjoyable raceday experience, the Association of Irish Racecourses is encouraging all racegoers to plan their visits in advance by simply visiting the racecourse website.”
By Leo Powell