Ireland stick with 355 meetings for 2016

The number of fixtures to be staged in Ireland next year will be 355, the same as in 2015.

Horse Racing Ireland confirmed the total comprises of 335 permanent fixtures, the 14 extra Dundalk Friday evening meetings introduced in 2011, plus six additional race meetings.

Allocated on a one-year-only basis to provide opportunities at times when there is the greatest demand from the horse population, these meetings are: Fairyhouse (April 5), Ballinrobe (April 15), Navan (May 28), Naas (September 21), Curragh (October 10) and Gowran Park (October 18).

The late-March location of Easter 2016 means Fairyhouse’s Irish Grand National meeting comes just nine days after the Cheltenham Festival, but there is two-week break to Aintree and more than four weeks to the Punchestown Festival.

Other interesting points include a slightly earlier start to the Flat season at the Curragh on March 20, the beach meeting at Laytown clashing with the Tuesday of the Listowel Festival (September 13) and the normal two-day end of season meeting at Leopardstown in late October being split to successive Sundays (23 and 30).

Due to the Easter dates, Cork will host its traditional Student Day on the Monday of the Cheltenham Festival, March 14, on a one-off basis.

HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: “I am pleased that we have been able to retain the same overall number of fixtures for 2016.

“Irish racing still remains very competitive, with our average field size for the year to date at 10.6 runners per race and a pleasing increase on the Flat for entries, declarations and individual runners.”

  • Rae Guest has appointed former Group One-winning jockey Paul Eddery as his new assistant trainer.

Eddery said: “I had spent a bit of time riding out work in America but I wanted more of a role in a yard rather than just riding work.

“I approached Rae and had a chat with him and it seemed like a good opportunity to take up. It should hopefully be second nature to me.”


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