Increased attendance at Limerick Christmas Racing Festival breaks 40,000 mark

Colm Kinsella

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella

Email:

ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

Increased attendance at Limerick Christmas Racing Festival breaks 40,000 mark

Happy connections of the well-backed Owl Creek Bridge, trained in Rathkeale by Eric McNamara and ridden by his son Conor, after their win in Division 1 of the Parkway Shopping Centre Handicap Hurdle

MORE than 40,000 racegoers flocked to the four-day Mr Binman Limerick Christmas Racing Festival at Greenmount Park.

Favourable weather conditions, especially over the opening three days of the Festival, helped swell the overall attendance at this year’s festival to 40,426 at the Patrickswell venue. 

The attendance figure is an increase on 2017 levels when 40,072  turned out to watch four days of exciting National Hunt action.

The National Hunt festival, which boasted €550,000 in prizemoney, concluded on Saturday with the staging of the Festive Family Fun Day when an attendance of 6,098 passed through the turnstiles despite the damp conditions.

The Christmas Racing Festival  is one of the biggest highlights of the local sporting and social calendar and provides a multi-million euro bonanza for the local economy.

Betting turnover with the on-course bookmakers on the final day of the Festival reached €105,641, a significant increase on the 2017 figure of €70,600.

There was a significant decrease in the Tote betting turnover figure, however, which fell from €254,116 in 2017 to €105,956.

There was a popular local success in Saturday's Watch Sky Sports Rated Novice Steeplechase when the well-supported Internal Transfer ran out on impressive winner for Rathkeale-based trainer Eric McNamara and Herbertstown jockey Donal McInerney.

Winning jockey McInerney won the big Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown earlier in the week aboard Auvergnat for Bruree handler Enda Bolger and leading Limerick owner JP McManus.

Saturday’s win at Limerick was a second success in 24 hours at the Patrickswell venue for winning trainer McNamara who saddled the gambled on Owl Creek Bridge to win Division 1 of the Parkway Shopping Centre Handicap Hurdle.

Returned the 9/2 joint favourite, Owl Creek Bridge, ridden by the trainer’s son Conor, had been as big as 20/1 overnight for the 2m 5f contest.

Meanwhile, the big race of the day on Saturday, the three-mile Sky Sports Racing Launching January 1st Novice Hurdle was won by 7/2 shot Derrinross for trainer Philip Dempsey, based in Carbury, Co Kildare, and jockey Luke Dempsey.