At a presentation of ‘A Vision for a New Curragh’ at The Curragh Racecourse on Wednesday, the Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine and Defence, Mr Simon Coveney T.D. welcomed the establishment of a new company, Curragh Racecourse Limited, which will own, operate and redevelop the Curragh Racecourse and Training Grounds.
The development plans for the racecourse include a new grandstand, weigh-room and parade ring, while the arrivals and reception area of the racecourse will incorporate a museum of Irish racing. The existing stable yard will be completely refurbished, while a separate investment programme will be put in place for the training ground. A period of consultation will now take place in advance of the submission of a planning application. It is hoped that the new Curragh Racecourse will open in 2018 and the intention is that racing will continue throughout the development period.
The overall investment in the project will be circa €65 million, to be financed jointly by HRI and private investment, with the objective being to complete the redevelopment without any debt. There will be three groups of shareholders who will form the Board of the new company, which will be chaired by Kildare native, former CEO of the ESB and current chairman of Eir, Pádraig McManus.
The shareholders are: The Turf Club, Horse Racing Ireland, and Private Investors, with each holding 33.3% of the shares.
The already committed private investors are: HH the Aga Khan, Eva-Maria Bucher Haefner, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, John Magnier, Godolphin Ireland, and J.P. McManus
The newly formed company will assume full responsibility for the Curragh Racecourse redevelopment project and, with effect from 1st January 2016, the business, assets and staff of the Curragh racecourse and training grounds will transfer over to the new company.
At Wednesday’s presentation Minister Simon Coveney said:
“I welcome this development. This Government continues to support Irish racing which is a high-value contributor to the rural economy and a generator of inward foreign investment, competing with and beating some of the biggest players internationally. The Curragh is the heart of Kildare, the thoroughbred County. It is an acknowledged centre of excellence in every aspect of the thoroughbred industry and this project will secure its place as the keeper of Ireland’s racing traditions and a welcoming host of some of Ireland’s best sporting and social occasions. I am particularly grateful to the private investors for their support of the project, an investment which will be matched by the State through Horse Racing Ireland.”
Pádraig McManus, Chairman of Curragh Racecourse Limited, said:
‘’It is an honour to chair this project which means so much for County Kildare and for Ireland. The Curragh has always had iconic status in world racing and we are determined to create a racecourse which does justice to the quality of the racing staged there and the owners, trainers and racegoers who make it such a special racing experience. This ambitious development is the result of continuing support from Minister Coveney and his Department, an integrated approach by Horse Racing Ireland and the Turf Club and the loyal support of many of Ireland’s top racing and breeding establishments.’’
Neville O’Byrne, Senior Steward of the Turf Club, said:
“The new Curragh Racecourse will be the realisation of a long-held ambition to create a world-class racecourse in place of the current facilities which date back to the 1960’s. As the Home of the Classics, boasting one of the world’s best racing surfaces and training grounds, the new Curragh will be a fitting venue for many of the top races in the international calendar. The Curragh can now take centre stage in the next phase of growth for thoroughbred Flat racing in Ireland.”
Joe Keeling, Chairman of Horse Racing Ireland, stated:
“This is the most important venture in the modern history of Irish racing. The Curragh will be benchmarked against the best racecourses in Europe. It will be profitable, with customers whose loyalty is built around exceptional racing, facilities and customer service. It will be central to the revitalisation of Flat racing which has already begun with the development of Longines Irish Champions Weekend.”
Quotes from Investors
Pat Downes on behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan: “Since His Highness’ speech at the Moyglare Dinner in 2000, he has been a passionate advocate for the redevelopment of the Curragh. It is a jewel of world racing, but its facilities do not match the quality of the track. His Highness was disappointed that the previous development stalled, but is delighted to participate in the new redevelopment project. He would like to compliment the Irish Government for their support of this project and sincerely hopes that the new Curragh Racecourse can act as a catalyst for a renaissance of the entire Curragh from an environmental, archaeological, military and heritage perspective.”
Ms Eva-Maria Bucher Haefner: “My father loved Ireland and enjoyed great success at the Curragh over the years with horses such as Trusted Partner and Dance Design, as well as taking great pride in the success of the Moyglare Stud Stakes sponsorship, now in its 43rd year. Quietly, he helped where he could in promoting the infrastructure of the business he embraced, and I am very happy to be able to continue his legacy by supporting the Curragh redevelopment. Equally important is that the vast majority of my horses are trained here, on these Curragh Training Grounds, and hence it is vital that I support the upgrading and integrity of one of the world’s great training centres,”
Joe Osborne, Managing Director of Darley and Godolphin in Ireland: “Our contribution to the redevelopment of the Curragh is an investment rather than a donation. It is an investment to make the Curragh Racecourse a world class facility and evidence of our confidence in the bright future of flat racing in Ireland.”
Michael Tabor: “I have been fortunate to race horses all over the world and the Curragh is a very special place to me. It was where Galileo won the Irish Derby. While its race track remains one of Europe’s finest, its facilities fall behind those of its international competitors. I’ve been an investor in Irish racing and breeding for nearly 20 years and as such I am pleased to support these new plans for the Curragh, to make it a real flagship for Ireland.”
Derrick Smith: “I have been coming to the Curragh for over 40 years. It is a fantastic racetrack, with a great history. I have been lucky to have many great days there with my partners and my family and I am delighted to contribute to its future. I am sure the revitalised Curragh will be a resounding success, providing the best of facilities to owners, trainers, jockeys, stable staff, bookmakers and racegoers.”
Sue Ann Foley on behalf of her father J.P. McManus: “The Curragh Racecourse and Training Grounds are at the heart of the thoroughbred industry in Ireland and has been the scene of many great races. The redevelopment of the racecourse is a most exciting project and we are pleased to be associated with this flagship project for Irish racing”