The 2012 Fixture List has been released today (Tuesday 26th July 2011) by Horse Racing Ireland. The key points in relation to the 2012 Fixture List are as follows:

  • The total number of fixtures has been increased from 336 to 349 with the addition of 13 extra Dundalk Friday evening fixtures from January to March to create all year round flat racing. All other racecourses retain the same allocation as in 2011.
  • The number of individual days with racing has been increased by 25 from 267 to 292, leaving 74 blank days in the Irish calendar (down from 123 in 2003), which should help to maximise off-course betting opportunities. 
  • For the first time since 1987, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby will be run on a Saturday (30th June) as part of a late afternoon card. The Curragh will continue to stage a three-day Derby Festival meeting with the Group 1 Stobart Ireland Pretty Polly Stakes moving to Sunday 1st July.
  • The Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes will also be run as part of a late afternoon card on Saturday 8th September.
  • A new top class weekend of Flat racing has been created on 8th/9th September featuring the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on the Saturday and the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh on the Sunday.  
  • Leopardstown will stage a Friday evening fixture on 8th June ahead of their standard schedule of eight Thursday evenings from 14th June to 16th August.
  • The two Leopardstown fixtures in January (previously run on separate Sundays a fortnight apart) will now be staged as a two-day weekend meeting at the end of the month (28th/29th January) for promotional and track preparation reasons.
  • The Easter Festival at Fairyhouse (8th–10th April) and the Punchestown Festival (24th–28th April) fall in their ideal calendar locations in 2012.
  • The Flat race Summer Season will start at the Curragh on Sunday 25th March 2012 and conclude at Leopardstown on Sunday 4th November 2012.

Commenting on the 2012 Fixture List, Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of HRI, said: “The 2012 Fixture List will see a number of exciting initiatives for Flat racing in Ireland: the introduction of year-round racing at Dundalk; the move of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby to a late afternoon Saturday card; and a similar time slot for the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes as part of a new top-class weekend of flat racing in early September which Leopardstown and the Curragh will jointly promote to the international tourism market.” 

Brian Kavanagh continued: “In line with its policy of recent years, HRI has ensured that the 2012 Fixture List will see racing staged on 292 days, an increase of 25 on this year, which should be of benefit to the betting industry. A key priority for HRI remains the need to increase racecourse crowds and it is pleasing that for the first six months of 2011 the average attendance was up by 3% compared to last year. We hope that the initiatives in the 2012 Fixture List will lead to further growth.”

In relation to the move of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby from Sunday to Saturday, Curragh Manager Paul Hensey commented: “The Curragh Racecourse made the decision to move the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby to Saturday next year following discussions with our title sponsors Dubai Duty Free and having consulted with Horse Racing Ireland.  We believe that a Saturday late afternoon Derby will have major benefits – facilitating its growth as the social occasion of the summer season and bringing it to a prime time television audience which will further raise its profile and attract new people to racing. Sunday will continue to be an outstanding raceday with the Stobart Ireland Pretty Polly Stakes featuring as part of a high quality programme.”

The dates of the major racing Festivals for 2012 will be:

Cork Easter Festival    7th–9th April

Fairyhouse Easter     8th–10th April

Punchestown National Hunt      24th–28th April

Killarney Spring     13th–15th May

Curragh Guineas    26th–27th May

Curragh Derby    29th June–1st July

Bellewstown    6th–8th July

Killarney July    16th–19th July

Galway    30th July–5th August

Tramore    16th–19th August

Killarney August    29th August–1st September

Listowel    17th–23rd September

Down Royal    2nd–3rd November

Fairyhouse Winter    1st–2nd December

Leopardstown    26th–29th December

Limerick    26th–29th December