Trainers take different views on opening Curragh weekend
Veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast has praised the efforts of the Curragh after the track held its first fixtures amid the two-year €65 million redevelopment programme, but fellow trainer Ger Lyons still believes it was wrong to allow racing to continue.
There was an aggregate crowd of 4,500 at the Curragh last weekend and Lyons said the 6,000 limit set for Irish Champions Weekend and the Derby fixture would send people “the wrong message”.
He said: “I feel the Curragh has the potential to be a big mess come the major racedays.
"I was quite vocal in saying the gates should have been locked during the developments and we should have raced elsewhere, and I still believe that should have happened.
“It was quite snug at the Curragh over the weekend and there weren’t many people there. It just doesn't sit quite right with me that we will be telling people they can’t turn up for the bigger meetings and we'll only allow 6,000 people through the gates.
“While the temporary facilities looked okay, a lot of time has been wasted in getting the place ready to hold a race meeting, and that time could have been better placed in getting the building completed.”
Prendergast was more impressed and said: “I think they've done a very good job and, under the circumstances, I thought it worked well.
“The only gripe I had was that they still charged people full whack through the gates even though the same level of facilities weren’t available to them. But that was my only complaint, and on the whole I was satisfied with what I saw.”
Despite his immediate concerns, Lyons has little doubt the developments will be worth the wait. He said: “I watched some of the races down in the temporary stand and you get a feel for what the new structure will offer as it is right on top of the racetrack and you are a lot closer to the action. It could be spectacular when it's finished.
“I think it will work really well. I was also impressed that, although all of this building work is well under way, the horses were not inconvenienced at all at the weekend. Above all else that's the most important thing.”