KILBEGGAN Races plans to invest its way through the recession with a major expansion of its facilities later this year.
Racecourse manager Paddy Dunican confirmed at last Saturday’s successful meeting that the stableyard at Kilbeggan will be extended with the addition of 55 extra horseboxes.
Addressing sponsors at Kilbeggan annual Racing Buffet, Mr Dunican stressed that ongoing investment had been key to the course’s continuing success over the years.
“We’ve gone through difficult times but we’ve made huge changes here on our racecourse,” he said.
“We’re going to extend our stableyard and build an additional 55 horseboxes which in the currently climate is a huge challenge for us in these economic times.
“But we’re happy that Horse Racing Ireland are going to grant aid the development and we’re hoping at the end of the year to start building.”
Saturday evening’s meeting was the sixth of the year at the very popular Loughnagore venue and Mr Dunican was delighted with the attendance.
At about 6,000, he said it was on a par with Kilbeggan’s most important meeting, the Midlands National.
“We are up at least 30 per cent on the same meeting last year and it was one of our best meetings. I was thrilled with the crowd,” said Mr Dunican.
The sponsors also heard Kilbeggan Races chairman Paul Daly explain how grateful the committee were for their support.
“We know this is a most difficult time for you. There are cutbacks in every business and the first thing to go is what is called an unnecessary expense and in any man’s language, sponsorship of events, in the day to day running of a business, would be an unnecessary expense,” said Mr Daly. “So we really appreciate that you keep coming up trumps, year in, year out.”
Roddy Ryan, senior steward of the Turf Club, said Kilbeggan was a lovely racecourse with a strong local committee.
“I really hope that Kilbeggan prospers. Despite the difficult time we’re all going through it really is terrific to see Kilbeggan going so well, spending money on improving facilities and getting sponsors in the local community here.”
Michael O’Leary of Ryanair and Gigginstown House in Mullingar is the sponsor of Kilbeggan’s Midlands National and also this year, Kilbeggan had a Best Dressed Lady competition sponsored by Dundrum Town Centre and Wineport Lodge.
The feature race on Saturday’s card was the Hackett’s Bookmakers Handicap Steeplechase, worth €18,500, and Paddy Dunican praised the Hacketts, describing them as long serving and loyal supporters of Kilbeggan.
Another highlight of the meeting was the Best Dressed Lady competition sponsored by Littlewoods Ireland and judged by former Miss Ireland and successful author Amanda Brunker.
The winner of the €2,000 Littlewoods shopping voucher was Paula Gannon, a hatmaker and art teacher from Athlone.
Ms Gannon made her own hat and handbag and her dress and gloves were from Nells Closet, Athlone.
Ms Gannon, whose millinery business can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/HatsByPaula, was praised for her creativity by Ms Brunker.
“I loved her creativity, she made her own hat and she customised her own dress and her handbag. I loved her hair, I thought she was very elegant and co-ordinated,” said Ms Brunker.
The seventh meeting of the season at Kilbeggan takes place on Friday, August 24 and will feature another innovation, a race day staged by Active Retirement Ireland, the first of its kind in the country.
Kilbeggan Races will close its 2012 calendar with a meeting on Friday, September 7.