HRI set Saturday date for Irish Derby

NEXT year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby will be run on a Saturday (June 30) for the first time since 1987.

This was the most significant revelation in the fixture list for 2012 announced by Horse Racing Ireland yesterday.

Total Fixtures will be up from 336 to 349, due to 13 extra Dundalk meetings. The Derby will be what is described as a late Saturday afternoon fixture, as will the Red Mills Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. All racecourses retain the same allocation as in 2011.

The number of individual days with racing has been increased by 25, from 267 to 292, leaving 74 blank days in the Irish calendar (down from 123 in 2003).

The Curragh will continue to stage a three-day Derby Festival meeting, with the Group 1 Stobart Ireland Pretty Polly Stakes moving to Sunday, July 1.

A new top-class weekend of flat racing has been created on September 8/9, featuring the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on the Saturday and the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh on the Sunday.

The two Leopardstown fixtures in January (previously run on separate Sundays, a fortnight apart) will now be staged as a two-day weekend meeting on Jan 28/29.

The Easter festival at Fairyhouse, April 8-10, and the Punchestown festival, April 24-28, fall in their ideal calendar locations in 2012.

The flat race summer season will start at the Curragh on Sunday, March 25 and conclude at Leopardstown on Sunday, November 4.

In relation to the move of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby from Sunday to Saturday, Curragh Manager, Paul Hensey, commented: “We believe that a Saturday late afternoon Derby will have major benefits - facilitating its growth as the social occasion of the summer season and bringing it to a prime-time television audience, which will further raise its profile and attract new people to racing.”

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