Curragh boss Pat Keogh happy with crowd but admits more work still to be done

The team at the Curragh should be proud with how they catered for 10,075 people on day two of Irish Champions Weekend on Sunday, according to the track's new boss Pat Keogh,who admits there is still a lot of work to be done at the revamped venue.

The Curragh came under fire earlier this season after an attendance just shy of 12,000 stretched the new €81 million facility to the maximum. 

However, on a day where a similar crowd turned out to witness the hugely successful Pat Smullen Champions Race, which raised over €1.4 million and counting for Cancer Trials Ireland, Keogh described the track's ability to cope with such numbers as much improved. 

"It was a brilliant weekend of racing from start to finish and it was great to see a big crowd at the Curragh. Most people went home happy," Keogh said.

“There has been plenty written about teething problems at the Curragh all year and we've addressed quite a number of those things. We were very pleased with the overall reaction on Sunday, which was very positive. 

“It was the second biggest crowd at the new Curragh after the Irish Derby, which is the big day, and I thought we coped very well.”

The attendance over the two days of Irish Champions Weekend came in at 23,508. There were still some grumblings about queues for food and toilet facilities at the Curragh on Sunday but nothing to the extent of Derby day, and Keogh reiterated that management will continue to listen to feedback.

He said: “The temporary facilities worked well. There is definitely an issue with where we put our marquee on the west end as it blocked the view of racing for some of the people in the stand. 

“We didn't want a repeat of what happened on Derby day, where people had problems queuing for the toilets, food and beverages. We weren't going to let that happen. 

“I'm sorry the marquee obscured some people's view, but it was the only place we could put it. We'll go back to the drawing board and we'll review that.”

He added: “In terms of how people moved throughout the venue, I think that all worked well. We'll look at further changes, which we'll look at introducing next year.

“The feedback we got on Sunday was very, very positive and I'm delighted for the staff of the Curragh because they got a lot of stick after the Derby meeting, which can be tough on people and their families.”

Asked what changes would be rolled out next season, Keogh responded: "I think there's been some dissatisfaction about the membership structures this year. It just didn't work. Some existing members and some lapsing members were unhappy with that and we'll have to address that. 

“We'll have to have a look at the facilities as well. We'll ask ourselves is everything in the right place over the winter and you can rest assured that there will be additional changes next year.

“I'd be fairly confident that the changes we make during the winter will enhance the offering. The viewing around the parade ring is something we'll look at as well.”

He added: “At the end of the day, what we really want to do here is to make sure the Curragh is really appealing, particularly to the people of Kildare. They need to feel that this is their racecourse – we'd like to see them coming back and for the Curragh to attract the numbers it did historically."