Down Royal’s future as a racecourse has been secured thanks to a smooth handover of the site and a seamless transition to a new management team.
The announcement brings to an end any uncertainty after the track’s current executive announced in October it would cease operations at the end of the year.
The Down Royal Corporation of Horse Breeders has raced at the Maze venue, operating a under lease, for the last 35 years.
Named Irish Racecourse of the Year in 2017 its biggest meeting features the Grade One JNWine.com Champion Chase in November.
Dublin-based Merrion Property Group purchased the site in 2005 – and owner Mike Roden announced his intention to take control of the racecourse, which also includes Down Royal golf club, earlier this year.
The two sides had been in discussions facilitated by Horse Racing Ireland and have reached an agreement, which has been signed off this week. It covers the fixtures and fittings at the site as well as the branding associated with the historic course which has staged horse racing for over 200 years.
When the Merrion Group signalled its intention to take over the management of the course, Horse Racing Ireland pledged to talk to both parties around outstanding issues.
HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: “I am pleased that agreement has been reached which will allow racing to continue in a seamless manner at Down Royal. This was not an easy situation, but both sides were willing to find a resolution in order for a deal to be struck.
“That is now the situation and we look forward to working with the new management team at Down Royal. I would like to pay warm tribute to the Down Royal Corporation of Horse Breeders for the way they have developed the racecourse to the position in which it was voted Racecourse of the Year in 2017.”
Incoming chief executive at Down Royal, Emma Meehan, said: “I am fully aware of the history and the prestige associated with the site and indeed I pay tribute to the outgoing management team.
“We are confident that the racecourse will continue to serve racegoers for many, many years to come.
“We are now fully focused on our task which is to deliver horse racing at Down Royal, starting in January 2019, in a way which maintains and enhances the experience of racegoers and the horse racing community throughout Ireland. We are looking forward to that challenge.”
The final race day for the outgoing team is on Boxing Day while the first meeting under new management is set for January 29.