Officials at Leopardstown remain hopeful this weekend’s Dublin Racing Festival will go ahead as scheduled, despite the forecast for potential snow.
Following a largely mild winter, a handful of meetings in Britain have been abandoned because of frost in recent days, and the cold snap is set to continue on both sides of the Irish Sea for the rest of this week at least.
Between 10 and 20 millimetres of rain is forecast to hit the Dublin area on Thursday, but there is a chance this could fall as either sleet or snow – while overnight temperatures are also set to dip below freezing.
However, Leopardstown’s chief executive Pat Keogh is optimistic the Foxrock venue will be fit to stage two days of top-class racing, insisting “no conversations” have taken place regarding potentially re-scheduling the top-class two-day fixture.
Keogh said: “We’re still a few days away, and the situation is changeable. However, there is an expectation that most of the snow will be in the south of the country, so hopefully we’ll be fine.
“All our hospitality is pretty much sold out, and advanced ticket sales are going very well.
“We’re expecting plenty of English people to travel over, with Ireland playing England in the rugby on Saturday.
“A lot of people might come for the rugby on the Saturday and then come racing on the Sunday, and others might just come racing and watch the match here – because we’ll have it on everywhere, including on the big screens.”
Leopardstown’s clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer is slightly more cautious and is hoping the snow fails to materialise, but would welcome any rain.
He said: “They’re talking about between 10 and 20 millimetres on Thursday – and they’re not sure if that’s going to be rain, sleet or snow.
“If we do get that volume of snow – and the with a forecast of temperatures to stay low – then obviously that will be a concern.
“We’re not in a mad panic, but we’re mindful of the forecast and we’re not dismissing it.
“If we get rain the track is well placed to take it. I’m sure a lot of people would be happy to see a bit of rain.”
After an unusually dry start to this winter, Leopardstown has seen some welcome rain of late.
Wyer added: “We’ve actually had 20 millimetres in the last 10 days, but it’s not made a big difference to the ground – we’re still good on the chase course and good to yielding on the hurdle and bumper track.
“The temperatures are forecast to stay low through Friday and Saturday, before being less cold on Sunday.
“We’re not talking about temperatures getting down to minus 5C. We’re looking at minus 1C or minus 2C.
“I’m not jumping up and down about it. We’ll just have to see what happens.”