RTE racing pundit and racehorse trainer Ted Walsh has claimed that the Curragh Racecourse needs to provide comfortable facilities for ordinary racegoers to ensure that big crowds return to the re-developed home of flat racing.
Outspoken Walsh was speaking at the venue on Irish Oaks Day on Saturday - less than 48 hours before it was announced that Leopardstown CEO Pat Keogh is taking over with immediate effect.
A week earlier, the sitting CEO Derek McGrath, who had overseen the €81m redevelopment, announced he was leaving at the end of the season.
Walsh, who made is comments on RTE TV, said that the Curragh is competing with other events like Slane and Electric Picnic to attract people and needed to offer a better service to patrons.
Many people who attended Derby Day last month were disappointed with the length of queues for bars and toilets and there was also concerns about the lower than expected crowd for the 3-day Festival.
The Curragh insisted that a number of teething issues had been highlighted and that it would act on the feedback of patrons to improve customer experience at future meetings.
Walsh said: "To be blunt about it, it suffers from delusions of grandeur. It thinks it's better than it actually is and that people will just come here - they won't. You've got to get the public to come."
He added: "There are no many things now - outdoor concerts whether it's Slane or Electric Picnic, the rugby has come to the fore for people to spend their money.
"Whoever was in charge of getting that crowd here missed out completely and when they did come to the Curragh they didn't look after them and they won't be back too soon.
"People went away from here with a bad impression, and that's the wrong thing to do."
Racing pundit Jane Mangan, who joined Walsh on RTE's coverage presented by Hugh Cahill at the Curragh, hailed the new grandstand as 'magnificent' architecturally and visually - but said that general admission ticket holders should have access to the first and second levels and not just the first level.
"Open up the second level and there are several bar, restaurant and toilet facilities which would have helped alleviate the problem that we had on Derby Day," she said.
Walsh added: "The Curragh is a bit like, you know when you go into a place and you say: 'I don't think I'm wanted here' because it's a bit stuffy and uncomfortable - this place suffers from that.
"I always felt that this place was uppercrust, like 'Upstairs Downstairs'.
But he added: "This has been going on for 30 years.
"The ethos is wrong here and unless they change that, they still won't get people to come."
The next meetings at the Curragh are the Curragh Sounds events on consecutive Friday evenings beginning on Friday, August 9.
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