CURRAGH chief executive Brian Kavanagh rejected the suggestion that a €50 on-the-day adult admission price to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby meeting last Saturday had an effect on the overall attendance.

Over 11,000 people went through the gates to see the Irish Derby, which was just short of the 2019 renewal, the last time there were unrestricted crowds.

“I think that is what we expected,” Kavanagh said on the Derby day figure. “That’s the capacity of the stand and we were just under it. We had temporary facilities up which probably didn’t get used as much - because of the weather people were congregating in the stand area.

“I was happy with that figure and it gives us scope to build on going forward. I’m more concerned that when people come, they have a good time. There has been criticism in the past of too many people being on the race track and facilities coming under pressure as a result of that. I don’t think that happened last weekend so that was good.”

There was plenty of criticism on social media aimed towards the admission price of €50 but Kavanagh felt that had little or no effect on the overall attendance figure.

“I’d make the point that the admission prices on the day are a very small fraction of the overall tickets we sell,” he said. “Irish Derby tickets are on sale for months in advance at various prices including up to €40 until the night before the race meeting itself. So the actual admission prices on the day, they might catch the headlines, but they’re only a small part of our sales.

“We’ll look at it again, maybe we need to communicate the message better around pre-sales. But I think that price compares with other race meetings and major sports events. There were concessions in that price for senior citizens and under 25s, and kids were free.”

The former Horse Racing Ireland chief executive was happy with how Irish Derby day went.

Good weekend

“Overall, it was a good weekend, with plenty to build on,” he said. “It looks like we had a good winner of the Derby, Westover was very impressive and it was good to see him stride out so strongly to the line and win decisively.

“The weather could have been better but it was dry and that was a blessing. I was happy that the facilities held up and operated well. Generally the feedback has been positive.

“Like all these race meetings, there’s work-ons as well, but people seemed to have a good time, there was a good atmosphere and last week was the first time since 2016 really since we’ve had a Derby without restrictions on it either through construction or through Covid, so it was just nice to see the atmosphere.”