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Dublin Racing Festival: Leopardstown boss reveals format tweak will be discussed

Leopardstown: attracted its best attendance figure yet across the two-day Dublin Racing Festival
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New Leopardstown CEO Tim Husbands has revealed a possible change from the Saturday-Sunday format of the Dublin Racing Festival will be reviewed, although he hailed the two-day meeting a "great weekend of racing".

The fixture, which began in its current format in 2018, also attracted its best attendance figure yet, while bookmaker and Tote numbers also improved.

Husbands also acknowledged that there have been calls for the old hunter chase, now run at Naas, to return to Leopardstown, before suggesting the prospects of a Friday-Saturday Dublin Racing Festival would be discussed.

"I saw some people saying the hunter chase should return and I wouldn't rule anything in or out," he said. "There has also been discussion about whether or not Friday would be a better day to race on than Sunday. 

"We're still balancing all of those things and considering what would be best for the racecourse and what's best for the industry. 

"It's obviously a very complex fixture and there was also the argument that if something is working, don't break it, and it's proved a very successful formula here."

Faugheen received a tremendous reception after winning the Flogas Novice Chase

Husbands identified Paul Nolan's return to the Grade 1 stage with Latest Exhibition, Faugheen's win in the Flogas Novice Chase and Rachael Blackmore's sterling weekend as particular highlights across the two-day bonanza. 

He added: "The Saturday and Sunday audience are somewhat different and I think they complement each other – that's why I think it's good for the industry as well as the casual racegoer to race.

"It's our job to increase the number of people who are going to engage with horseracing and the excitement that those races gave us, together with the celebration of sport and culture that was on show. It was a great atmosphere and a great example of how well to position a race meeting."

'Racegoer satisfaction was fantastic'

Off the track, Leopardstown attracted its best attendance figure yet of 26,474 for the Dublin Racing Festival, while bookmakers' take of €899,467 was up by one per cent on last year. 

Tote figures were also up 20 per cent to €187,998 and, according to Husbands, bar and hospitality figures also performed well.

He said: "It was a great weekend of racing and a fantastic achievement, confirming the Dublin Racing Festival as a signature piece for the industry. It ticked a lot of boxes but I do have an experienced team here. They work really hard and they are very close-knit."

Husbands added: "To get a nine per cent increase on attendance from last year and for it to be the busiest of the three Dublin Racing Festivals, I think that's reinforced its place on the calendar. 

"Everything else was up as well. The bookmakers were up, as was the Tote, catering and bar takings. The racegoer satisfaction was fantastic."

Read this next:

Dublin Racing Festival verdict: a cracking two days – but even more can be done

Why Willie Mullins, not Faugheen, was the real star of Leopardstown

A meeting that had it all: key takeouts from a compelling Dublin Racing Festival

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It was a great atmosphere and a great example of how well to position a race meeting

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