By Declan Colley
THIS year’s flat season will see a small rise in the total number of races during the campaign, rising from 453 to 460.
Horse Racing Ireland announced last night that other changes developments will see the number of 2-y-o races being increased from 62 to 68 and the introduction of the earliest 2-y-o Listed contest in Europe with a new race at the Curragh on May 1.
HRI also announced a first Listed race for the Roscommon track, which will be the 10f Lenabane Stakes on July 10, while they have also announced that the minimum race value for all 3-y-o only maidens will be €12,000.
HRI’s Director of Racing Jason Morris said that by adding significantly to the early season programme of 2-y-o races, including the first Listed race opportunity in Europe at the Curragh at the start of May, it was hoped that trainers would be encouraged to campaign their 2-y-olds earlier in the season and thereby increase the competitiveness of juvenile races.
"This is consistent with HRI’s long-term strategy to progressively remove the worst horses from the system and to encourage reinvestment in new bloodstock, leading to overall improvement in the quality of the flat racing product," he said.
Curragh Manager Paul Hensey noted: "There seems to be a big increase in the number of 2-y-olds in training on the Curragh this year, no doubt stimulated in part by the interest surrounding the new Goffs Million races to be run at the Curragh on September 19. We therefore hope that the new 2-y-o Listed race will be well supported and it is a welcome addition to our early season programme."
Roscommon Manager Michael Finneran said he was delighted the track had been allocated its first ever flat Black Type race by HRI.
"The Lenabane Stakes, to be run at our evening fixture on Monday July 10, will significantly boost the image of the course both domestically and hopefully internationally, as we will strive to attract overseas runners. It is a welcome recognition of our efforts to upgrade the quality of our flat racing programme and reflects the high regard in which the racetrack is now held," he commented.