All year National Hunt racetrack plan revealed

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An exciting new plan for an all weather hybrid track at Dundalk Stadium racecourse has cased quite a stir among the tracing fraternity.

The stadium owners, who just this week won Racecourse of the Year Award at this year’s Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) Awards, have unveiled a €3.5million project that would see National Hunt Racing taking place all year round.

The owners are in the process of submitting plans to the Dundalk Town Council to widen the existing horse track and construct two straights of turf with the provision of hurdles and fences for jump racing .

Uniquely it will be the only racecourse in the world where the turf will have underground heating similar to what is currently being used in soccer and rugby stadia.

This will ensure that racing can still take place when temperatures go as low as -10.

Jim Martin said ‘This is a new concept, it will be an opportunity for horses that prefer good going to race during the winter months. It will present similar opportunities to National Hunt owners, trainers and jockeys as the all-weather winter programme has provided for flat owners, trainers and jockeys. We are confident that the horse population exists to support these extra opportunities. In 2012 72% of all National Hunt horses raced on ground that was either yielding, soft or heavy and whilst the winter in 2013 has thankfully been very mild and dry to date, weather predictions into the future suggest that our winters are increasingly becoming wet. The floodlit aspect of the racing will allow fans of National Hunt racing to enjoy their sport in a unique atmosphere’.

There have already been questions about the viability of such a track, suggesting that such a track would not be able to attract the numbers of runners to make it worth its while.

Horse Racing Ireland said they would not comment, because the project is in its ‘infancy’ but they said hat concerns about its viability were legitimate.

Jason Morris is HRI Director of Racing said; “The concerns are legitimate in that the national hunt horse population has declined significantly in recent years and there i s not at present a requirement for additional winter jumping fixtures, while a number of tracks have also widened their racing surfaces and therefore have the capacity to stage additional national hunt meetings if required, albeit not in extreme weather conditions.”


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