Now that Cheltenham has been put to bed, and what an exciting week it has been, all eyes are firmly fixed on the Flat season which is set to return in full swing next weekend at The Curragh Racecourse!
This week the Association of Irish Racecourses (AIR) column features Brian Kavanagh, CEO of The Curragh Racecourse. Most of you will know Brian from his previous role as CEO of Horse Racing Ireland where he served for two decades.
However, many of you might not be aware that prior to that he was racecourse manager at The Curragh Racecourse for a few years back in the nineties! He returns to the helm there this season as he takes over from Pat Keogh, who was in the role since July of 2019.
The Curragh Racecourse is Ireland’s premier flat horse racing venue, hosting all 5 Irish classic races. The racetrack has always been recognised for its quality and now following a tremendous redevelopment project, it boasts the premium facilities to match it. A wide range of conference and meeting rooms and exhibition areas are also in situ, which are great assets to the local community and businesses nationwide.
Since Covid-19 had a big impact on the Curragh, like all tracks, Kavanagh will be eager to get back racing and to see the stands packed with excited racegoers as the racecourse has always been a special place for Kildare people. While most of their major races are fully sponsored, one of Brian’s main aims this year is to work towards having 100% of their races sponsored.
In a recent interview with Kildare Chamber, Kavanagh spoke about how he is optimistic about getting crowds back to The Curragh. “Irish horse racing has proven itself to be very resilient during the pandemic and apart from an 11-week period in early 2020, it was able to continue uninterrupted since then.
“While most of those race meetings were run without spectators, we were in a fortunate position compared to many other sports and businesses and is not taken for granted.
“It also coincided with a period of great success on the track for Irish horses, trainers, and riders. In that time, interest levels in Irish horse racing grew significantly across all measures including, ownership levels, numbers of horses in training, television viewing figures and demand for the media rights (pictures) of Irish races.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, there will be a significant demand for people to get out, socialise and meet other people in safe environments. Horse racing is perfectly positioned to offer that environment – one thing we are not short of on at The Curragh is fresh air!”
Non-racing business is also a priority for Kavanagh, and he said “While the training centre is open 365 days a year – there are approximately 1,000 horses trained on the Curragh gallops, given the scale of investment in the facilities at the Curragh, it is imperative that they are operating on more than just the 23 race days held each year.
“Non-race day business is a particular area of growth in our business plans and the early signs are very positive. It is also a great way to showcase the Curragh to a new audience and also broaden our relationship with sponsors.”
The Association of Irish Racecourses and its members wish Brian, the Board of Management and all the team at The Curragh Racecourse, the very best of luck for the season ahead. For further information or to book tickets and hospitality, visit www.curragh.ie.
By Leo Powell