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Friday 15 December 2017

Track Talk: Fairyhouse looks to be in good hands

Peter Roe
Peter Roe

I don't know what it's like to manage a racecourse and I'm unlikely to find out any time soon, but you would imagine that the more high profile the racecourse the more managing it would take.

By the same token, you would think that those with the better races should automatically attract the better crowds and help ease the burden of trying to run the joint.

As I said, I don't know the ins and outs of it, but what I am fairly sure of is that whoever decided to make Peter Roe the manager of Fairyhouse probably deserves a pat on the back.

On Monday, Roe was sat next to Michael O'Leary as they announced Ryanair as the new sponsor of what has been known the Powers Gold Cup for 50 years.

O'Leary is a staunch supporter of Irish jump racing in terms of ownership and sponsorship and he revealed on Monday how he sponsors these races out of his own pocket because "there's no point in having a Michael O'Leary Gold Cup or a Michael O'Leary Hurdle" but gives the race the Ryanair title.

opted

O'Leary did previously sponsor the point-to-point bumper on Easter Monday but as "that ran its course" he has opted to go elsewhere.

Now, you could say that O'Leary is an easy target for sponsorship as he already has deals in place with Leopardstown, Punchestown and Cheltenham, but he is nothing if not shrewd and doesn't embark on such things unless it makes sense.

As well as that, there was no sign of O'Leary sponsoring at the home of the Irish Grand National before Roe managed to sign him up.

Fairyhouse Racecourse is an iconic venue in Irish sport and while horse racing is in the minority, some of the most famous sporting yarns have been created at the County Meath venue. For some reason, though, Fairyhouse Racecourse found itself suffering from poor attendances, even at the Irish Grand National.

For some of its other meetings you were likely to find more in attendance at Thurles on a Thursday.

It simply wasn't the way such a Grade One track should be headed.

Roe took the helm in 2010 and on a full-time basis in 2011, and that was a trying time for any racecourse, but with Michael O'Leary onboard, Boylesports signing up to the National and Barry Geraghty as the track ambassador, as well the inclusion of a Grade One Mares Hurdle at Easter, and the continued support of Barney O'Hare's Bar One Racing, who sponsor the big Hatton's Grace day, Fairyhouse is returning to where it should be.

The crowds seem to be coming back through the turnstiles, and in conjunction with Ryanair offers, and O'Leary's ambition, they hope to have over 10,000 people there on Easter Sunday this year.

With Easter being a moveable object and one year being too close to Cheltenham and the next being up the backside of Punchestown, Fairyhouse can often suffer so credit has to be given where it's due and Irish racing needs Fairyhouse to be booming.

While there's more to be done, it's certainly heading back in the right direction.

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