After months of speculation about the future Down Royal Racecourse, there has now been a smooth transition as the Merrion Group and Down Royal Corporation of Horse Breeders come to an agreement.
The new owners of Down Royal Racecourse, the Merrion Group, who from next year will take over the day-to-day running of the Course, have come to an agreement with the Down Royal Corporation of Horse Breeders which will ensure a smooth handover of the site and a seamless transition into racing at Down Royal from 2019 and beyond. The two sides had been in discussions facilitated by Horse Racing Ireland.
The agreement, which has been signed off this week, covers the fixtures and fittings at the site as well as the branding associated with the historic Racecourse which has staged horse racing for over 200 years. When the Merrion Group signalled its intention to take over the management of the course, Horse Racing Ireland pledged to talk to both parties to resolve any outstanding issues.
HRI Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh, welcomed the outcome of those discussions and said: “I am pleased that agreement has been reached which will allow racing to continue in a seamless manner at Down Royal. This was not an easy situation, but both sides were willing to find a resolution in order for a deal to be struck.
“That is now the situation and we look forward to working with the new management team at Down Royal. I would like to pay warm tribute to the Down Royal Corporation of Horse Breeders for the way they have developed the racecourse to the position in which it was voted Racecourse of the Year in 2017.”
Incoming Chief Executive at Down Royal, Emma Meehan, added: “I am fully aware of the history and the prestige associated with the site and indeed I pay tribute to the outgoing management team. We are confident that the Racecourse will continue to serve racegoers for many, many years to come.
“We are now fully focused on our task which is to deliver horse racing at Down Royal, starting in January 2019, in a way which maintains and enhances the experience of racegoers and the horse racing community throughout Ireland. We are looking forward to that challenge.”
Mike Todd, Down Royal Corporation of Horse Breeders, said: “It has been a privilege to be at the helm of Down Royal Racecourse for almost 23 years. It has been a time of huge transition, there has been amazing development of facilities on the site and phenomenal progression of racing within Northern Ireland.
“Down Royal Racecourse is now firmly established as one of the top tracks in Irish and British racing, and the calibre of horse we have had at the track in recent years reflects this. I wish to thank the Chairman, Committee, grounds staff and office team along with all our sponsors, customers – as well as those in the industry – for helping to make Down Royal Racecourse the best it can be.”
The final raceday for the Down Royal Corporation of Horsebreeders will be the Boxing Day, December 26 meeting, and everyone is welcome to join the celebration of everything achieved by the Corporation at the Maze site. Admission tickets are still available for this meeting.
Down Royal race again early in the new year, with a meeting on January 29.