The Dublin Racing Festival will take place on Saturday 3rd February and Sunday 4th February 2018 at Leopardstown.
This inaugural National Hunt weekend places two iconic races – The BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle and The Unibet Irish Gold Cup together with a top quality suite of supporting races back-to-back on Saturday 3rd February and Sunday 4th February 2018 at Leopardstown. The launch was held at Dublin’s iconic landmark – the Guinness Storehouse and it was attended by well-known faces from the racing world including: Champion National Hunt Trainer – Willie Mullins, Noel Meade, Tony Martin, Tom Taaffe, Arthur Moore and jockey Ruby Walsh.
The weekend was created by consolidating Leopardstown’s three stand-alone meetings in late January and February into a two-day event and adding additional races to make a full house of championship races. Comprising of seven Grade One, three Grade Two races, along with new and existing valuable handicaps with the minimum race prize value of €75,000; this will be two days of continuous quality racing action. Total prize money over the fifteen races across the weekend amounts to €1.5million. One exciting addition to the racing programme for the weekend is the introduction of the Coral Dublin Chase, a Grade 2 two-mile one furlong contest on Day One of the festival. The short distance chase in National Hunt racing has always provided a thrilling spectacle, which has been the specialty in recent years of equine greats such as Douvan, Sprinter Sacre, Sizing Europe & Moscow Flyer.
The Dublin Racing Festival’s aim is to provide a weekend of quality races with an equally impressive prize fund to attract the top names in Irish and British racing as well as to capitalise on the rising popularity of the festival concept in both racing and culture. Across Ireland and Europe, more and more people are coming together to celebrate unique interests and passions – from sport to music, wellness and food to multi-day outdoor festivals; The Dublin Racing Festival will combine the best of both worlds – a celebration of the brilliance of jumps racing combined with cultural and social elements to make it a uniquely positioned festival. The Dublin Racing Festival will also target the overseas tourist market as Dublin continues to be one of the leading European destinations. The naming also deliberately links Leopardstown Racecourse, which has been part of Dublin life since 1888, to the community and people of Dublin County to celebrate its culture and traditions. RTE Sports Presenter Des Cahill was Master of Ceremonies for the launch and he interviewed CEO of Leopardstown Pat Keogh, Champion National Hunt Trainer Willie Mullins and Champion National Hunt Jockey Ruby Walsh.
Pat Keogh, CEO, Leopardstown Racecourse commented: “We are very excited about the potential of this festival: for the racing fan, who will get to see some of the biggest national hunt races of the year in one weekend. For the festival fan, the entertainment will include cultural elements that make Dublin one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in Europe. This is a unique sport with beauty and drama in abundance and we want to bring this sport to as wide an audience as possible, whether they be ardent racing fans or new to the sport. The UK audience is also a key target as we provide them with an experience that showcases the very best that Dublin has to offer in a top class racing festival”
HRI Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh, CEO said: ”From a scheduling perspective, the Dublin Racing Festival fits nicely between Christmas and Cheltenham which offers the perfect opportunity for the top trainers, jockeys and horses to come and compete from both Ireland and Britain. Leopardstown has already seen strong demand from overseas visitors, particularly Britain, following HRI approval of the event in the Summer. To have no race worth less than €75,000 is a great starting point, and we have every intention to progressively increase prize-money over the coming years.”
Willie Mullins commented: “I think that this festival is a great initiative by Leopardstown. The Irish Champion Hurdle and the Irish Gold Cup are two great races to build a new festival around, backed up by a host of top class races that will showcase the jumping talent on this side of the Irish Sea.”
Ruby Walsh commented: ‘I’ve had some of the greatest days of my career on Hurricane Fly in Leopardstown, particularly those in the Irish Champion Hurdle. The day that he set the world record of 22 Grade 1’s – those days are special. I love competing and winning the big ones and it doesn’t get any better than seven grade 1 races over a weekend. The timing of this festival works well with it being between Christmas and Cheltenham’ .”
DAY ONE: RACING PROGRAMME
RACE 1: Grade 1 The Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle €100,000 2m6f
RACE 2: Grade 2 The Coral Dublin Chase €100,000 2m1f
RACE 3: Grade 1 The Frank Ward Solicitors Novice Chase €100,000 2m1f
RACE 4: Grade B Handicap Chase €75,000 2m1f
RACE 5: Grade 1 The BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle €150,000 2m
RACE 6: Grade B The Coral Handicap Hurdle €100,000 2m
RACE 7: Grade 2 The Goffs INH Flat Race (C&G) €75,000 2m
DAY TWO: SUNDAY 4TH FEBRUARY 2018
Day Two of the Dublin Racing Festival is the only race day in Ireland to feature four Grade 1 races on the one day. The four Grade 1 races are: Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle, the Flogas Novice Chase, The Deloitte Novice Hurdle and The Unibet Irish Gold Cup
The following two races are new to the card at Leopardstown on Day Two: the Grade B €75,000 Handicap Hurdle and the Grade 2 Coolmore I.N.H Flat Race (Mares).
Prize Money has increased from €582,000 in 2017 to €825,000 in 2018 over the 8 races.
RACE 1: Grade 1 The Tattersalls Ireland 4yo Spring Juvenile Hurdle €100,000 2m
RACE 2: Grade B The EBF Mares Handicap Hurdle €75,000 2m2f (upgraded)
RACE 3: Grade 1 The Deloitte Novice Hurdle €100,000 2m
RACE 4: Grade B The Handicap Hurdle €75,000 3m
RACE 5: Grade 1 The Flogas Novice Chase €100,000 2m5f
RACE 6: Grade 1 The Unibet Irish Gold Cup €200,000 3m
RACE 7: Grade A The Chanelle Group Leopardstown Handicap Chase €100,000 2m5f
RACE 8: Grade 2 The Coolmore I.N.H. Flat Race (Mares) €75,000 2m