Leopardstown Set for Festival Fever

It would be an impressive challenge to undertake but it will be possible to take in at least part of three major sporting events in Dublin on the afternoon of Saturday, February 2nd.

It will be the first day of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown where prizemoney of €1.8 million will be raced for over two days of the highest quality jump racing.

The racecourse will be laying on special buses to bring people into the Aviva Stadium then for the England Vs Ireland opening fixture in the Guinness Six Nations.

The main event at Leopardstown, the BHP Insurance Champion Hurdle gets underway at 3.10 with the rugby kicking off at 4-45. The real sporting enthusiast could then make it into Croke Park for the second half of Dublin’s Allianz National Football League match, a repeat of last season’s All Ireland Final against Galway.

Then again if tickets and transport prove a little tricky then Leopardstown will be showing all the action on big screens and in bars all around the track.

“We have already seen a significant uplift in English bookings for the weekend,” said Pat Keogh, Leopardstown CEO speaking to Sport for Business yesterday.

“Part of that will be down to the quality of racing we established in our first year of the Dublin Racing Festival but there will also be a big impact from fans travelling over to be in Dublin for the Rugby weekend but who may not have a golden ticket.”

“We have already seen plenty of chatter on social media around how they will be watching the Rugby on our big screens as part of what is a big social as well as a sporting trip for groups of friends.”

And why wouldn’t they with the option of live sport through the day and a choice of giant screens to watch the rugby on or plenty of different bars and marquees around the racecourse if it’s a bit cold.

Leopardstown will be erecting additional Marquee space this year and putting on a very impressive mix of food and music entertainment with Delorentos taking to the stage after racing.

“Last year we had a big crowd stay on after racing to watch Ireland play France in the Six Nations,” said Keogh.

I was walking from one part of the course to another when I heard the most almighty roar. That was Jonathon Sexton scoring the wonderful drop goal that set up the Grand Slam. It was a great moment and one which crowned a great opening day last year. We can only hope for the same again.

The festival promises to showcase many of the horse that will head to Cheltenham five weeks later and Racing TV, which is now the broadcaster of all Irish racing hosted a special live broadcast yesterday featuring Jessica Harrington, Gordon Elliot and a host of the trainers bringing their big stars to Dublin.

Last year saw attendance over the two days of a little over 26,000 and a great atmosphere around the course.

Online advance tickets for students and pensioners are being made available for the first time at this meeting following a larger than expected rush of younger racegoers at the Christmas Festival.


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