The 2023 Irish Flat season will kick off in style at The Curragh Racecourse on Saturday followed by the racing at Naas on Sunday in what promises to be a highly entertaining weekend of quality action.
Celebrating the return of the Flat season this weekend, The Curragh and Naas Racecourse have teamed up to offer racegoers a weekend ticket which is available for just €25 at www.curragh.ie or www.naasracecourse.com.
Saturday will be the first of 23 scheduled racedays at The Curragh for the 2023 season with the eight race card featuring the Paddy Power Irish Lincolnshire Handicap and the Lodge Park Stud EBF Park Express Stakes taking centre stage.
Last year’s Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Homeless Songs is the star name to appear among Saturday’s entries as the Dermot Weld-trained four-year-old is set to make an early seasonal debut in the Group 3 Lodge Park Stud EBF Park Express Stakes.
Homeless Song could possibly meet the Joseph O’Brien-trained Agartha who was fifth in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and was a Group 2 winning juvenile at The Curragh. A total of 17 fillies stood their ground for the one mile contest that also includes the 110-rated Insinuendo for local trainer Willie McCreery.
British representation is likely on the opening weekend of the season with ambitious Classic winning trainer George Boughey leaving Totally Charming among the 45 remaining entries for the Paddy Power Irish Lincolnshire, with Lattam and Perseverants also possibilities for William Haggas and Scott Dixon respectively.
The prestigious €100,000 handicap may also see Cosmic Vega and Inchturk line up for new training partnership Michael Halford and Tracey Collins. The much respected duo are set to have their first runners of the new season this weekend since joining forces recently to operate from the historic Conyngham Lodge.
Top weight in the Paddy Power Irish Lincolnshire is the Michael O’Callaghan-trained I Am Superman who returns to Ireland having been sent to be trained in Australia under the watchful eye of Peter and Paul Snowden before re-joining O’Callaghan where he began this year campaigned in Dubai.
Johnny Murtagh won the race last year with Raadobarg and may saddle three runners in the latest renewal as Carrytheone, Miss Mirabell and Mashhoor all remain in the mix.
A total of 13 juveniles have been entered for the Alkumait Capital Stallions Irish EBF Maiden which will begin the new season at 1.40pm on Saturday.
On Sunday at Naas the Jessica Harrington-trained Panic Alarm may attempt to snare another valuable prize at the venue. The course and distance winner is a standout entry in the Irish Racing Writers Madrid Handicap having won the lucrative Irish EBF Auction Series Race Final last October.
Aidan O’Brien last won the Madrid Handicap with Never No More in 2019 and the champion trainer has a typically strong entry for Sunday’s edition. Age Of Kings, Carracci, Londoner, Mohawk Chief and Paddington were all maiden winners for O’Brien last year and all hold Classic entries for the coming months.
Irish equine science company Plusvital, will continue their sponsorship of the Devoy Stakes on the opening weekend at Naas.
The Plusvital Devoy Stakes is a highly competitive early season target for some of Ireland’s leading middle-distance and staying horses and has once again attracted a strong entry.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Martinstown, who won his only start impressively last season, may make his eagerly awaited return to action in the 10-furlong contest where the Willie McCreery’s Self Belief and the Joseph O’Brien-trained Visualisation are notable inclusions, as is the Andrew Slattery-trained Sunchart who has been busy over hurdles during the winter.
Now in their fourth year supporting Naas Racecourse, Plusvital are proud sponsors of the Listed race which was won by Layfayette last year before going on to claim the Group 3 Alleged Stakes and then the Group 2 Mooresbridge Stakes, both at The Curragh.
Ahead of this year’s renewal on Sunday 26 March, Plusvital have also announced in addition to the €500 breeder prize they provided last year they will also provide a new additional prize for the trainer of the winning horse, who will now also be awarded €500 worth of Plusvital products. Additionally, to acknowledge their contribution to the industry and to this opening meeting all the winning ‘Best Turned Out’ grooms of each of the races on the day will be recognised with a Plusvital equine care pack.
Compas Stallions, owned and managed by Micheál Orlandi, also return to Naas as proud sponsors this weekend by backing five races on Sunday’s card including the Dubawi Legend Irish EBF Fillies Maiden which has been won by subsuqent Classic winning fillies Empress Josephine and Tuesday in recent years.
On top of the Compas Stallions sponsorship at Naas in 2023, winning breeders will also be rewarded by winning a free nomination to the stallion that particular race is named after. In the case of The Compas Stallions Handicap, winning breeders will be allowed to take their pick for a free nomination to a stallion on the Compas roster.
To begin the weekend, the superb Newbridge Gospel Choir will welcome racegoers at the entrance of The Curragh on Saturday in advance of the packed eight race programme and there will also be a variety of parade ring chats and previews with leading trainers and jockeys, as they look forward to the season, together with a number of very special guests. The Curragh are also introducing a new Kids Zone featuring the Kildare GAA Skills Zone will be launched for the first time with free activities for younger racegoers throughout the afternoon.
For the opening meeting of the season, The Curragh will host an innovative fund raising initiative sponsored by the racecourse featuring 33 GAA clubs from all over County Kildare who have signed up to take part. Each Club will be drawn a horse running in the Paddy Power Irish Lincolnshire, where a €10,000 pot will be split between the clubs who have drawn the first three placed horses. Large crowds are expected to attend from all over the county to cheer on their horse on what will be a family fun day with lots of free activities for kids and all are encouraged to wear their club jerseys and colours.
To celebrate the new season, The Curragh have launched special ticket price offers with great value early bird ticket prices available for purchase throughout the year on curragh.ie, while a new “Curragh Bundle” is available for all race days comprising of admission, racecard, €5 Tote bet and €10 voucher which can be redeemed in any of the public food outlets.
Early bird tickets are available for Saturday with a 25% discount, including a weekend ticket to attend The Curragh on Saturday and Naas on Sunday available for €25 online. Regular racegoers also have the option to become a Curragh Member with benefits including admission to all 23 days of racing together with a variety of benefits and privileges. Under 18s are always admitted free to the races, when accompanied by an adult.
Before racing on Sunday at Naas, the track will host the “The GAIN Flat is Back Flat Preview” in the Circle Bar at 12.15pm with a panel of well known trainers, a jockey and a representative from GAIN to chat about the build-up to the flat season, preview the card and note some horses to watch for the season ahead.
Kids activities on the day include face painting, magic show and there is also a free creche at Naas and playground.
Further details for the weekend can be found at www.curragh.ie and www.naasracecourse.com
Paddy Power Irish Lincolnshire
Paddy Power Betting: 10 Emporio, Totally Charming, 12 Cosmic Vega, Lattam, 14 Carrytheone, Dunum, Flame Of Eire, Good Heavens, Visualisation, 16 Comfort Line, Dha Leath, Finans Bay, I Am Superman, Mashhoor, No More Porter, Saltonstall, 20 Big Gossey, Casanova, Cold Steel, Corduan, Current Option, Maud Gonne Spirit, Star Harbour, 25 Celtic Crown, Fastnet Crown, Joe Masseria, Miss Mirabell, Secret Magician, Vocal Studies, 33 Facethepuckout, Inchturk, Loingseoir, San Aer, Smooth Tom, The Organiser, 50 Laelaps, New Hill, Rick Dalton, Solar Breeze, 66 Eskimo Comet, Perserverants, Sirjack Thomas, 100 Desert Wind, Eastern Wind, Quizical