New Leopardstown Festival plan

Petit Mouchoir has strong Leopardstown form

Leopardstown will host a new two-day festival featuring the BHP Irish Champion Hurdle and Stan James Irish Gold Cup in 2018.

Horse Racing Ireland has approved the plan to consolidate Leopardstown's three current stand-alone meetings in late January and mid-February into one two-day meeting on February 3 and 4.

The Irish Champion Hurdle will headline the Saturday card with the Irish Gold Cup taking centre stage on the Sunday.

There will be seven Grade Ones and three Grade Twos run over the course of the two days along with new and existing valuable handicaps.

Initially 1.5 million euro will be available in prize money with the intention of that rising to 2.1 million euro in 2020 with a minimum race value of 75,000 euro.

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."

Read More at Sky Sports Racing

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