A crowd of a thousand people returned to the Curragh Racecourse for the first time last Saturday since the Covid-19 pandemic.
The lucky punters — a mix of locals, frontline workers and racing fans who snapped up the rare tickets in an online sale — were on hand to witness English-trained colt Hurricane Lane take the feature race, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, in a nailbiting finish.
The crowds may have been smaller than last year but the ladies and gents at the course turned on the glamour for their first day trackside in well over a year.
The Curragh Racecourse donated €10 from every €25 admission ticket to the Peter McVerry Trust, who run seven shelters for the homeless in County Kildare. Fr Peter McVerry himself was present to receive the proceeds on the day. Some fifty members of the Defence orces frontline staff were also special guests, and an Air Corps flyby took place before the big race as a salute to all pandemic key workers.
Outgoing Curragh Racecourse CEO Pat Keogh hailed the 2021 Derby festival as ‘an important step’ in the country reopening after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Keogh said: “We were delighted to welcome racegoers back to the Curragh. his was an important step and I thought it went very well — there were 1,000 people here and I think every one of them had fun as we saw some great racing.
"We’ve shown it can be done and I hope that it is significant from a national point of view. We showed we could do it with a thousand and we are very confident we would be able to do it with a larger number.” He added: “When the Government decides it’s safe to relax further I think racing has shown we can handle these events safely.”
The venue was divided into zones with temperature checks upon arrival and punters were given allocated arrival times on all tickets and face masks were mandatory. There were no on-course bookmakers allowed at the course but the Tote service was in operation to take bets.
Pleased to support
Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free said, “We are pleased to have once again supported the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby. It was important for racing that the day was chosen by the Irish government to be a test event for the return of fans.”
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