Leopardstown Racecourse launched the 2018 Christmas Festival at Gordon Elliott’s yard in Cullentra, County Meath yesterday morning and released the initial entries for all seven Grade 1 races and the Paddy Power Chase at the highlight of the Festive sporting season.
The Festival, which runs from St Stephen’s Day, December 26 to December 29, boasts a 12 percent increase in prize money this year. The total value of the races is up by €160,000 on 2017 and now stands at €1.4 million.
The richest of the prizes is on the second day when Paddy Power sponsor the Paddy Power Chase with a value of €200,000. The betting company also back two Grade One races on the same card.
The most prestigious race of the Festival has a new backer this year with Savills coming on board to sponsor the day as well as the Savills Chase with prize money of €175,000, an increase of €25,000 on 2017.
This highlight of the Jump Racing Calendar was formerly sponsored by Ericsson and then Lexus and Savills signed up to a new partnership in the summer.
“We are thrilled to sponsor this main event of the national hunt season,” said Angus Potterton, Managing Director of Savills Ireland at the time.
“The Leopardstown Christmas Festival has always been a significant occasion during the Christmas season in Ireland and the Grade 1 Savills Chase is the highlight of the week.”
“The race brings together an elite group of horses, jockeys and trainers which mirrors our own business bringing together the very best talent in the property industry.”
The entries for this year’s race include each of the first three home in 2017 Road to respect, Balke des Flos and Outlander. Former Cheltenham Gold Cup Winner Sizing John is also entered and expected to run here.
Each of the eight main races over the four days is now worth a minimum of €100,000 in prize money and other sponsors include Ryanair, Squared Financial, Neville Hotels and the Racing Post.
“As usual I am really looking forward to the racing in Leopardstown at Christmas,” said Gordon Elliot. The quality of racing and opportunity to see how our best horses measure up against their peers is something we nervously looked forward to at this time of year.”
“All the team here at Leopardstown are very much looking forward to another four days of great racing at the Christmas Festival,” said Pat Keogh, Chief Executive of Leopardstown Racecourse.
“Today’s entries reflect the very high standard of racing we have come to expect at Christmas. The quality of racing is greatly helped by the wonderful prizemoney on offer.”
“We are extremely grateful to all our sponsors whose contribution allow us offer these purses. We are also very grateful to the owners who support Leopardstown with their very best horses every year.”
Image Credit: Dan Sheridan, Inpho.ie