Racing will take place at Dundalk every Friday evening between 23rd September 2011 and 30th March 2012 (except December 30th 2011) following the approval by the Board of Horse Racing Ireland for 14 new fixtures to be staged throughout the winter season.
There will be one extra date added this year, on December 23rd, with 13 new meetings to be introduced in the first three months of 2012. These fixtures will be in addition to Dundalk’s existing annual allocation of 23 race meetings, and the costs will be financed by contributions from SIS, the broadcast rights holder for live Irish racing to betting shops, and Dundalk racecourse.
The new Dundalk Friday evening winter series will:
· Provide 100 extra races (an approx 10% rise on 2011) for the flat horse population, generating additional opportunities for owners, jockeys and trainers
· Offer approx €900,000 in extra prize money at the 14 fixtures, with Dundalk’s normal prize money levels and the €7,000 minimum value per race maintained
· Allow betting shops to open in Ireland throughout the winter on the most popular betting evening of the week as sought by the Irish Bookmakers Association
It is intended that these fixtures will be run for a three year trial period (up to 2014) at which point all of the implications will be reviewed.
As a result of the expansion of Dundalk’s winter programme, separate summer and winter flat seasons and championships will now be created. For 2011, the main summer flat season/championship will be run from the Curragh’s opening meeting on 20th March to Leopardstown’s November Handicap meeting to 6th November. A separate winter season/championship will then apply for the All Weather Track meetings staged at Dundalk over the winter (i.e. from 11th November 2011 to 23rd March 2012).
Commenting on the introduction of this new winter series, HRI CEO Brian Kavanagh said: “HRI is pleased now to be in the position that we can introduce a series of additional Friday evening fixtures at Dundalk, meaning that there will be a consistent weekly product to showcase throughout next winter. This is good news for the flat racing industry and good news for the betting industry, with additional employment and earning opportunities created in both these sectors. The priority of the HRI Board was to ensure that minimum prize money levels were retained and I am grateful to Dundalk and SIS for making that happen.”
HRI Director of Racing Jason Morris added: “We are announcing the new expanded Dundalk winter series at this stage, in advance of publishing the full 2012 fixture list, in order to alert owners and trainers to the significant additional opportunities and prize money that will be available for flat horses this winter. We will develop and publish the full programme of races for the five months from November 2011 to March 2012 before the end of June.”
Dundalk Stadium Chief Executive Jim Martin commented: “We welcome the introduction of the winter series which will provide additional opportunities for employment in the racing and betting industries as well as in the Dundalk area. We believe that this new series will be well supported by trainers in Ireland and Britain.”
Phil Siers, SIS Managing Director LBO Division, stated: “SIS is delighted at this extension to the fixture list offering our bookmaker customers greater continuity and a cohesive winter programme through the provision of better all weather coverage on these busy Fridays. This will give Irish betting shops an additional 14 days of winter evening opening. SIS is delighted to be working with HRI, Dundalk and the IBA to deliver an improved programme which is sure to benefit all of the constituent parts.”