The Association of Irish Racecourses has a varied and wide brief for its members, those who own or operate all 26 racecourses in Ireland.
The Association has representatives on many committees and boards which serve our industry, one such board being that of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) who recently approved and released the 2022 fixture list for racing in Ireland. For those of us who have been starved of racing for so long, this positive announcement brings much hope for the months ahead.
Here are some of the main points from the release.
The overall number of fixtures will increase to 390 next year. The list contains 387 meetings at this stage, as three ‘floating fixtures’, up from one last year, will be kept in reserve to be programmed at short notice by the HRI fixtures committee at a time when demand for opportunities to run is very high.
The number of fixtures for 2022 is an increase of 10 on this year’s original figure, with seven additional turf fixtures and three additional all-weather meetings scheduled. The overall number of turf meetings will be 346, up from 339, with 44 all-weather fixtures, up from 41.
The number of blank Sundays has been retained at six – they are April 24th, June 19th, July 24th, August 28th, September 4th and October 9th, while the number of Saturday evening meetings is reduced from four to three. They are Bellewstown on July 2nd, Kilbeggan on August 6th and Tramore a week later on August 13th.
All seven days of the Galway Festival will revert to being mixed cards, as will the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the Listowel Festival, and ‘Super Sunday’ at Tipperary on October 2nd. The overall number of mixed cards is down to 11 from 17 in 2021.
The opening day of the 2022 flat turf season will be held at the Curragh on Saturday, March 26th. A weekend of quality flat racing will continue at Naas the following afternoon, giving the new season a high-profile launch. The Curragh will host a three-day Guineas Festival meeting, with an additional fixture on Friday, May 20th.
Dundalk’s winter AWT Finals’ meeting will now be held on Friday, March 25th, while there will be four Wednesday afternoon AWT fixtures in January and February, two dates being new fixtures and two being meetings formerly held in April and May. The late addition of the equivalent fixtures to the 2021 programme proved beneficial in addressing the strong demand for opportunities over the winter.
A significant adjustment to the National Hunt calendar will see a later date for the Munster National meeting at Limerick. The fixture has been moved back two weeks to Sunday, October 23rd to provide a better calendar location between the Kerry National at Listowel on Wednesday, September 21st and the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan on Sunday, November 27th.
Jason Morris, HRI’s director of racing, said: “We continue to see strong growth in our horse population numbers, up 19% year-on-year, and average field sizes up from 11.8 to 12.3 runners per race. This is reflected in the increased fixture list we are announcing for 2022.”
Commenting on the fixtures’ announcement, Paddy Walsh, chief executive officer of AIR, said: “There are a lot of positives to be taken from the fixture list announcements, the most important of all is that there are 10 additional fixtures for our valued racegoers to look forward to next year, after what has been a trying time for many of our members and their teams.
“They can now look ahead to getting back to the business of putting on a fantastic race day experience for our customers in the new year.”
By Leo Powell