HRI announce new February Leopardstown festival

Leopardstown will host a two day February festival

The Board of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has approved the creation of an new two-day festival of jumps racing at Leopardstown

The festival will be run for the first time on the weekend of February 3 and 4 next year.

The BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle will be the feature event on the first day, while the Stan James Irish Gold Cup will headline the Sunday card.

The two-day festival will offer prize-money of €1.5m in 2018 with plans to progressively increase that fund each year, rising to €2.1m in 2020.

The festival combines the feature races from Leopardstown’s current three stand-alone meetings in late January and mid-February, and is positioned equidistant from Leopardstown’s Christmas festival and the Cheltenham festival in mid-March.

Seven Grade 1 races and three Grade 2 events will feature in a two-day event in an initiative designed to build on the success of this year’s National Hunt festivals.

The full race programme and the prize-money to be offered over the next three years will be announced within the next month.

HRI Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh said: "The HRI Board enthusiastically supported the proposal from Leopardstown to create a new two-day festival of jumps racing in early February and has agreed to enhance its prize-money commitment to the weekend to reflect the increased sponsorship and racecourse contribution.

"HRI believes that the new festival, featuring 15 top-class races, will be very popular as it fits nicely between Christmas and Cheltenham, and will offer perfect opportunities for the top horses not just from Ireland, but Britain as well. We would also hope to attract a large number of overseas racegoers to Leopardstown for the weekend."

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