Horse Racing

New festival weekend of jump racing at Leopardstown set for the new year

Horse Racing Ireland have approved the creation of an exciting new two-day festival of jumps racing at Leopardstown, to be run for the first time on the weekend of Saturday February 3 and Sunday February 4 in 2018.

The BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle will be the feature event on the first day, while the Stan James Irish Gold Cup will headline the Sunday card.

Total prize-money for the weekend will be €1.5m in 2018.

The festival combines the feature races from Leopardstown’s current three stand-alone meetings in late January and mid-February, and is perfectly positioned in the calendar, equidistant from Leopardstown’s Christmas festival and the Cheltenham festival in mid-March.

Seven Grade 1 races and three Grade 2 events, along with both existing and new valuable handicaps (including the Hurdle), will feature in a two-day extravaganza in an initiative designed to build on the wonderful success of this year’s National Hunt festivals.

Meanwhile, Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning combined to land the feature Oliver Brady Memorial Shabra Charity Ballycorus Stakes at Leopardstown on Thursday night, as Flight Risk showed a telling turn of foot from off the pace.

For a while up the straight it looked likely that they would be frustrated as Manning had to wait patiently for a gap to appear on the inside rail, but when it did, the six-year-old son of Teofilo quickened up well to beat the Richard Fahey-trained raider Don’t Touch by two and a half lengths. It was Flight Risk’s first win for over two years and his first run since October, since when he has been gelded.