IRELAND could have a new state-of-the-art racecourse by the spring of 2013.
The course, which will be based on an 800 acre site close to the Tipperary village of Two-Mile-Borris, will include both a National Hunt track and an all-weather flood-lit surface and will form part of a massive €460m investment announced at the Horse and Jockey Hotel near Thurles yesterday.
It is envisaged that it will be a Grade 1 track and also due to be built is a Premier greyhound facility on what will be called The Tipperary Venue.
Both Horse Racing Ireland and the Irish Greyhound Board are understood to support the plans.
There is a great need for a National Hunt course which can race through the winter, and this will be ‘unfloodable’, according to architect, Brian O’Connell. He said the track will be built a metre above the ground and ‘will be better than anything seen before’.
Legendary trainer Aidan O’Brien described the impressive presentation as “amazing, mind-blowing”.
He continued: “It’s what the world has been waiting for, we will be able to hold the Breeders’ Cup at this track. Everyone knows how hard it is becoming, with the weather, to race here in the summer and winter.
“This will be an all-weather with grass and the whole project will be good for the economy. It is a phenomenal project and just what the Irish racing industry needs. It will be fantastic to have a world-class facility in Co Tipperary and I eagerly await having many runners there.”
Ballydoyle number one jockey, Johnny Murtagh added: “These are fantastic plans. We are supposed to have the best horses, jockeys and trainers in the country and now we are going to have the best racecourse.”
Chief Executive of HRI, Brian Kavanagh, said: “We have been presented with the plans for The Tipperary Venue and are impressed with their ambition. We wish the promoters well and look forward to working with them on the racing aspects of the development.”
It is estimated the racecourses will cost in the region of €50m and will be broadly based on the Leopardstown model.
As well as the courses and greyhound track there are many other aspects to what promises to be an extraordinary development.
The magnificent site, alongside the M8 motorway, between Dublin and Cork, will also become home to a 500 room five-star hotel and a casino.
The government has initiated a complete policy review and a redrafting of the current legislation on gaming in Ireland. It is hoped this will provide for the licensing of gaming casinos in the country. There are further plans for an 18-hole golf course, driving range, retail outlets, equestrian centre, timber chapel and a heliport.
The Tipperary Venue is the brainchild of Thurles-born Dublin-based businessman, Richard Quirke.
He is best known as the creative force behind Dr Quirkey’s Good Time Emporium and also has a wide variety of successful business ventures.
“It’s an opportunistic time to do this, if you wanted to do it three or four years ago it would probably cost 40% more,” said Quirke who has reportedly invested €30m in the project.
Close to another €500m has to be found with independent TD for North Tipperary, Michael Lowry, who has been closely associated with the project from the start revealing that: “they will not be relying on the banking sector for investment.”
Should planning permission be granted, and that is due to lodged with North Tipperary Co Council this morning, work will begin on the site in the spring of next year.
It is expected that 1,000 people will be employed annually for the three years of construction and a further 2,000 full-time jobs will be created thereafter.
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