herald

Sunday 26 January 2020

Escape for some fresh, festive air and try your luck at Leopardstown

Lucy Coyne enjoying last year’s Leopardstown Christmas races. Photo: Frank McGrath
Lucy Coyne enjoying last year’s Leopardstown Christmas races. Photo: Frank McGrath

An estimated 55,000 punters will be ditching the comfort of their sofa and chancing their arm on a well-fancied entry as the Leopardstown Christmas Festival begins today.

For many, the annual four-day event has become as much of a tradition as over-indulging on turkey and ham or setting the Christmas pudding alight.

With a total prize pot of €1.4m up for grabs over the course of the festival, attendees are in for some top-class action.

This year, organisers will be unveiling the first stages of a massive €18m redevelopment and opening the new building which replaced disco Club 92 which closed last year after 30 years in business.

Attendees will get the first look at the new racing hall and museum bar in addition to the general upgrade of the existing facilities.

For those stuck for a babysitter, they can also bring their little ones along as Leopardstown sees the opening of its new family section, complete with an indoor games area, a coffee shop and baby-changing facilities.

The outdoor areas will also be tarmacadamed to make it easier to push a buggy around and more family-friendly, and there will eventually be an outdoor play area.

"We want to appeal to all members of the family, even those who are not that into the racing so there will be lots of entertainment on the day," said marketing and events manager Vicki Moody.

Generations

"I think Leopardstown is a real tradition for people.

"You're stuck inside for most of Christmas Day and full of turkey so by Stephen's Day, you're ready to escape and get some fresh air.

"We see all generations as well, from young to old, and so many people come home for Christmas and use it as a venue to meet up with people they haven't seen all year.

"I think people just want a good day out."

Advance ticket sales have been strong for the annual festival as there's a €5 discount online.

She is also urging attendees to ditch their cars and use public transport if possible.

A free shuttle bus service will be running from Blackrock Dart Station for all days except today and the Sandyford Luas is a short distance away.

There will also be plenty of Grade One action for racing aficionados.

Today, all eyes will be on the feature race of the day, the Racing Post Novice Steeplechase, with €100,000 in prize money up for grabs.

Tomorrow it's the turn of the Paddy Power Steeplechase, which comes with a €200,000 prize pot, and Saturday is the €175,000 Saville's Steeplechase.

The Savills Style Awards will also take place on the third day, with a host of prizes up for grabs, including a Philip Treacy hat and vouchers for Dundrum Town Centre.

On Sunday the Matheson Hurdle worth €125,000 will be the feature race on the final day of the festival.

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