Horse Racing Ireland has published the 2019 fixture list.
Among the highlights next year is the planned official opening of the redeveloped Curragh racecourse.
The additional festival days introduced in 2018 are retained for next year, and significant changes have been made to the programme to ease the workload of stable staff and costs to trainers.
The fixture list features increased blank Sundays during the busy summer months of the year, and earlier race times to meet concerns.
After two truncated seasons, the Curragh has its full allocation of 19 fixtures restored for next year but there are significant changes.
The Curragh season starts on Saturday, April 13th. There is a three-day Guineas Spring Festival from Friday, May 24th to Sunday, May 26th with a Group 1 race on each day.
The Irish Derby meeting moves to a Thursday-to-Saturday schedule in late June, with the Irish Derby remaining in the Saturday slot. The racecourse’s four traditional August meetings will all move to Friday evenings.
Cognisant of the pressure in the industry around staffing, the number of completely blank Sundays in the summer months has been increased to five (from three) while there will also be five other Sundays during the flat turf season with no flat racing scheduled.
There will be an earlier finishing time of no later than 8.45pm for 10 months of the year, with an 8.30pm last race time at Dundalk Stadium in the first two months of the year.
The two built-in breaks for National Hunt jockeys have been retained with the late June-early July break extended from nine to 12 days.
The principal features of the 2019 fixture list are:
Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of HRI, said: “The 2019 fixture list has been developed with the needs of both the customer and those working in the industry in mind. 2018 enhancements such as extra festival dates at Bellewstown, Killarney and Galway, and the newly inaugurated Dublin Racing Festival have been retained, while an exciting new fixture list for the Curragh will coincide with the opening of the redeveloped racecourse.
"Consideration has also been taken of the needs of the industry’s workforce with the introduction of extra blank Sundays and earlier finishing times where possible. 2019 will be an exciting year for Irish racing and the publication of the fixture list today certainly whets the appetite.”
Commenting on the changes made to the fixture list to ease the workload on stable staff, the Irish Stable Staff Association chairman Bernard Caldwell said: "We warmly welcome the changes in the fixtures for 2019, and we’re delighted that staff will have extra Sundays off next year. The earlier changes to the race times are also very welcome and that’s something we’ve been requesting for some time, so we’re delighted.”
Chief executive of the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, Michael Grassick, also welcomed those changes: "This is a strong step in the right direction. It’s something that the IRTA have been lobbying for and it’s an important development for my members as they try to reduce the workload of our staff. I’m glad that the 2019 fixture list reflects these views.”
For the full fixture list click on the link below:
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