LEOPARDSTOWN clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer has welcomed positive comments from trainer Gordon Elliott and Eddie O’Leary on ground conditions at this week’s Christmas Festival.

Both Elliott and O’Leary, Gigginstown House Stud’s racing manager, have been critical in the past of Leopardstown’s chase course when they felt it was too dry and should have been watered.

This year Mother Nature provided rain at the right time but there have also been some changes made to the maintenance regime by the racecourse groundstaff.

Elliott said: “I’d say the ground was in good condition. Everyone seemed to be happy with it. All my runners have come out of their races sound, as did our Limerick runners.”

O’Leary added: “The ground was lovely. I know they have been watering more often but the weather was very good to them too. It was a good job and I haven’t heard of any horses who returned sore.”

Asked if the underfoot conditions were due to timely rain or a change in practices, Wyer said: “I’d say it’s a combination of both. I must compliment [track foreman] Willie Gibbons and his team, and [racing and operations manager] Jane Hedley.

“They focussed on the chase track with a watering programme during the summer, combined with deep aeration, wetting agents and introducing more organic matter into the mixture. Add in the fact that we had more rain in the lead-up to the meeting than in recent years, and that got us to where we are.

“I didn’t discuss ground conditions with any jockeys or trainers this week, but I am glad to hear that the reaction is good. The track appeared to ride well.”

It was softer still at Limerick Racecourse though there was never any danger of racing being cancelled, said manager Tom Rudd yesterday. “We had a good bit of rain during the week but the going was no worse than heavy and trainers told me it was not bad for Limerick at Christmas. I would say the track is still raceable today.”