Irish 2015 fixtures unchanged
Last Updated: 22/07/14 11:06am
Horse Racing Ireland has announced its fixture list for 2015 with the total number of meetings remaining unchanged at 349.
Leopardstown's two-day BHP Irish Champion Hurdle meeting in January has been split up to take place on successive Sundays (January 18 and 25), with the Boylesports Handicap Hurdle the main event on January 18 before Irish Champion Hurdle day the following week.
The Flat 'summer' season will start slightly later than normal at the Curragh on Sunday, March 29 and concludes with a two-day meeting at Leopardstown on the weekend of October 24 and 25.
The Easter Festival at Fairyhouse will revert to a three-day meeting (Sunday April 5 to Tuesday April 7), taking place three weeks after the Cheltenham Festival and three weeks before the Punchestown Festival (April 28-May 2).
The Bellewstown Festival in July will run from Thursday, July 2 to Saturday, July 4 from its previous Friday to Sunday slot, with a Fairyhouse fixture moving back a week to stage a high-quality Flat card on Sunday, July 5.
Irish Champions Weekend will be run for the second time as a two-day meeting at Leopardstown on Saturday, September 12 and the Curragh on Sunday, September 13.
Horse Racing Ireland's chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: "I am pleased that HRI is able to announce the 2015 Fixture List at this early stage so as to facilitate racecourses in their promotional plans for next year.
"We have been able to retain the same overall number of fixtures for 2015 despite a small decline in the number of horses in training this year.
"It is worth noting that in 2013, the average field size in Ireland was 11.62, compared to 10.92 in France and 8.95 in Britain, which shows the continued emphasis that we place on producing competitive racing.
"For 2015, we have ensured that there will be a top-quality Sunday National Hunt card throughout the core winter months, which includes scheduling two Leopardstown meetings on successive Sundays in January.
"There will also be a high-class Flat meeting staged every weekend of the summer season. The calendar has been kind in the way that the Easter Festival at Fairyhouse falls three weeks before the Punchestown Festival, with the early season Flat programme also being ideally scheduled.
"Looking ahead to 2016, Ireland has asked the European Pattern Race Committee to undertake a thorough review of the entire European middle distance three-year-old programme to determine whether beneficial changes can be effected for the future."