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Leopardstown Christmas racing festival moved behind closed doors

The spiralling national Covid figures have made it ‘impossible to to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for the general public’ said the racecourse CEO.

A view of Leopardstown Racecourse.
A view of Leopardstown Racecourse.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

THE LEOPARDSTOWN CHRISTMAS Racing festival will be held behind closed doors due to rising Covid cases. 

The festival begins on Stephen’s Day and the racecourse had hoped to hold each of its four days with 5,000 spectators present – in line with the latest Covid restrictions announced by the government – but has now decided to proceed without spectators as they believed it otherwise “impossible to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for the general public.” 

The decision was also informed by the fact several cases have left the racecourse short-staffed. 

Only industry professionals, staff, owners and members will be permitted on site. Ticketholders are entitled to a full refund. 

“We have seen the rising case numbers nationally and locally reflected in our staff over the past few days, a situation that has become increasingly concentrated over the past 24 hours and has forced us to make this late decision”, said racecourse CEO Tim Husbands.

“It makes it impossible for Leopardstown to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for the general public and has led us to make the difficult call to close the festival to the general public.

“I know this will be hugely disappointing news to all of those who had purchased tickets in advance, as it is deeply disappointing to the team here who have worked so hard in putting a fantastic festival together.

“Our team will process refunds as soon as possible so please do not call or visit the racecourse we will issue your refund in due course and no later than 28 days after the event. We appreciate your patience in this matter.

“Thankfully we still have the staff necessary and expertise to put on four brilliant days of racing from Sunday which you can view on RacingTV and RTÉ.

Husbands added: “We have managed to deploy staff from other racecourses and we’ve had colleagues from Horse Racing Ireland who answered the call and kindly volunteered to work at Leopardstown over Christmas.

“However, that still hasn’t been sufficient as we have not been able to keep pace with the volume of staff who, in particular, have been identified as close contacts. In addition, we know that our experience with cases and close contacts has been replicated in our third-party suppliers which by itself would have had implications next week.

“Thankfully we still have the staff necessary and expertise to put on four brilliant days of racing from Sunday, and can ensure industry professionals, owners, our members and our sponsors representatives, that they will be safe at Leopardstown for what unfortunately will be a pared-back festival.”

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The decision was announced shortly before the HSE confirmed a record 11,182 cases of Covid-19 in Ireland across the last 24 hours. 

Additional reporting by Press Association  

 

 

 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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