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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Limerick has 'no worries' over heavy ground for Christmas festival

Death Duty could be charting a path to Limerick this Christmas for the Greenmount Park Novice Steeplechase (Grade 2)
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Limerick looks set to avoid any potential ground concerns over Christmas, with general manager Patrick O'Callaghan adamant on Tuesday conditions will be fine for the course's four-day festival starting on December 26.

Limerick suffered some cancellations in 2009, 2010 and 2015 but organisers at the Munster venue are confident the going – described on Tuesday as heavy – will prove more than manageable.

"I've no worries whatsoever about issues similar to previous years with ground," said O'Callaghan. "With this dry week ahead we feel we're in a very good position at the moment.

"The ground is heavy but it's nothing like bottomless. Hopefully with a few nice days over the coming week, which appears to be forecast with no showers until Christmas Eve, it should be edging further away from heavy."

O'Callaghan added: "All 28 races are sponsored, pre-bookings are very strong and we're expecting to break the 40,000 attendance barrier again this year.

"I believe quality performers like Death Duty are heading our way and last season we saw Penhill win the Grade 2 Guinness Novice Hurdle before winning at the Cheltenham Festival, so we'll be hoping for more of the same."

Pat Keogh (left) alongside the Harringtons and Sizing John at the launch of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival

Leopardstown 'in great condition'

Conditions look set to be ideal for the four-day Leopardstown Christmas Festival, according to ‎chief executive Pat Keogh, with the ground on Tuesday described as yielding.

He said: "We couldn't be happier with the track at the moment, it's all fully set up and in great condition. It's currently yielding, which leaves us in a very good position entering the four days.

"It's a bit far out to suggest that it'll be the exact description of what we're racing on next week but it should be similar to the yielding ground we have now.

"For the next few days the weather looks quite settled and the few spells of rain shouldn't make a material difference on conditions."

Keogh added: "The entries are really strong with some clashes to savour and we just can't wait to get the festival under way.

"We're very happy with where bookings are at this stage and we'd encourage anyone interested in coming to book online beforehand and to come early on the day – they won't be found wanting for entertainment."

Down Royal recovered from winter wonderland

There is also action north of the border on December 26 at Down Royal, with the ground on Tuesday soft, heavy in places after plenty of snowfall in recent weeks.

General manager Mike Todd said: "We had a big freeze up here for a few weeks with snow on the track but everything has thawed out thankfully.

"It's 8C today and the rest of the week is due to be dry with temperatures even touching 12C. The forecast couldn't be any better."

He added: "The ground is soft, heavy in places after having the snow land on it but it should dry up a little between now and Tuesday, although anything can happen in a week."

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The ground is heavy but it's nothing like bottomless. Hopefully with a few nice days over the coming week it should be edging further away from heavy
E.W. Terms
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