Though it could scarcely be termed a shock, in desperately disappointing developments, it has just been announced that Leopardstown’s four day Christmas Festival will once again take place behind closed doors. Curiously though, Limerick’s event, which in terms of race programme, is practically the same as that slated for the Foxrock venue, have been allowed to proceed with the 5,000 permitted to attend outdoor events.
Leopardstown CEO Tim Husbands said: “We have seen the rising case numbers nationally and locally reflected in our staff over the past few days, a situation that has become increasingly concentrated over the past 24 hours and has forced us to make this late decision. It makes it impossible for Leopardstown to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for the general public and has led us to make the difficult call to close the festival to the general public.
“I know this will be hugely disappointing news to all of those who had purchased tickets in advance, as it is deeply disappointing to the team here who have worked so hard in putting a fantastic festival together. Our team will process refunds as soon as possible and will be in touch with all customers, please refer to http://www.leopardstown.com for more details on this process.
“Thankfully we still have the staff necessary and expertise to put on four brilliant days of racing from Sunday, and can ensure industry professionals, owners, our members and our sponsors representatives, that they will be safe at Leopardstown for what unfortunately will be a pared-back festival.”
It will come as a bitter blow not only to the track – depriving them of their four biggest days racing of the year – but also to the racing industry which was only beginning to see the benefits of having patrons back on track. Something reflected in the recent announcement of increased prizemoney within Irish racing going forward.
Nevertheless, at least the racing is going ahead, and with seven Grade Ones on the card, there are bound to be several pointers for future occasions which are hopefully just around the corner. The show must go on, somehow.