This coming weekend could be the biggest weekend at the Curragh since its redevelopment, as the Taste of Kildare festival will be held alongside two days of top quality and lucrative prize money racing at a newly themed Curragh Autumn Festival.
Since announcing plans for a redevelopment, the Curragh has gone through a period of turmoil. The decision to continue racing during the rebuilding was a rocky start and in truth, Ireland’s premier racecourse has failed to regain its reputation with a number of mini controversies since.
These included the parade ring needing to be rebuilt, the main stand needing to be altered because of a bizarre whistling noise from the wind, a number of occasions when long queues were the norm and inadequate facilities even with just minuscule crowds.
The total cost of the project finished up at €81 million, of which included over €30 million of taxpayers’ money.
Despite the world class facilities, attendance figures continue to disappoint. Just over 6,700 people attended the second day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend last Sunday week, despite world class racing via four Group 1s.
A horrible day weather-wise didn’t help, but now is the time for the Curragh to kick on and get people back racing.
Brian Kavanagh, the former Horse Racing Ireland CEO, and now having his second stint as racecourse manager at the Curragh, has strongly advocated for the course to reconnect with locals and it could well be a significant coup to have aligned with the Taste of Kildare event.
Over 15,000 people paid €15 to attend the Taste of Dublin event so the opportunity is there for the Curragh to showcase itself to a new type of customer. The racecourse will be full of stands featuring local products and signature dishes.
As usual, the quality of action on the track won’t be lacking, most notably through the reintroduction of the Goffs Million and the inaugural running of the €600,000 Friends of the Curragh Irish Cesarewitch.