Ireland held centre stage in the world of horse racing over the weekend with racing fans and media travelling from all over the globe to witness the fourth Longines Irish Champions Weekend.
Saturday’s attendance at Leopardstown of 13,689 was down slightly from 2016’s record attendance and the redevelopment work at the Curragh meant that overall attendance was down further but the quality of racing and interest from overseas remained as high as has ever been hosted in Ireland and firmly maintained the status of the weekend on the international racing calendar.
The purpose of the two-day festival when it was first established in 2014 was to provide a home ‘showcase’ for Ireland’s racing industry that would match those of Britain, France and the United States.
The report on the healthy state of the industry by Deloitte, published in Dublin on Thursday, suggests it has made a significant impact.
While next year will also be challenging in terms of numbers ahead of the full redevelopment of the Curragh being completed in 2019 it will proceed as planned with Leopardstown on Saturday featuring the Quipco Irish Champion Stakes and The Curragh on Sunday led off by the Palmerstown House Stud Irish St Leger.
The international quality of Saturday’s Qipco Irish Champion Stakes will have satisfied the Qatari sponsors who signed up to a three-year extension of their support for the race earlier this year based on the success it has achieved in becoming one of the top rated individual races of the year on the world stage.
This was the sixth-year running, an international winner has won the race, as Decorated Knight scooped the Group 1 prize for trainer Roger Charlton with Sir Michael Stoute’s Poet’s Word and Martyn Meade’s Eminent in second and third place.
Coolmore Stud, KPMG, Willis Towers Watson and Moet & Chandon were among the other sponsors over the weekend.
“The quality of racing today was top class and we are proud to host this world-class racing weekend,” said Leopardstown Racecourse CEO Pat Keogh.
“We would like to thank all our sponsors, partners, owners, jockeys and trainers who have helped make Longines Irish Champions Weekend an international racing event of which Ireland can be proud.”
Leopardstown and the Curragh Racecourses are among the more than 220 organisations that play an active part of the Sport for Business community.