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Racing industry needs to win back public confidence | Curragh CEO Pat Keogh

The Curragh's CEO Pat Keogh admits that racing will need to win back the confidence of the public...



Racing industry needs to win b...
Racing

Racing industry needs to win back public confidence | Curragh CEO Pat Keogh

The Curragh's CEO Pat Keogh admits that racing will need to win back the confidence of the public after a week of controversies. 

Leading trainer Gordon Elliott apologised after a photo was leaked of him sitting on a dead horse at his gallops while footage also emerged of Cheltenham Festival winning jockey Rob James mounting a deceased horse.

"It's been very difficult for everyone that's involved in the industry," Keogh told Friday Night Racing on Off The Ball. "From Gordon who has been directly in the line of fire on this win, but also everyone else.

"It's an industry we all love and there's an absolute love and respect for the animal. So this came as such a shock when it came on Sunday, we've all been affected by it because we all have a great responsibility.

"No matter what job you're doing within the industry, you have a responsibility. People look to us as the custodians of the horse, it's been extremely difficult.

"What happened was clearly a terrible mistake, an awful lapse of judgement on Gordon's part, he's taken full responsibility for that, but I've never seen anything in racing like that. We'll regroup and we'll recover because this is absolutely not typical."

Cheveley Park Stud withdrew their horses, including Cheltenham Festival fancies Envoi Allen, Quilixios and Sir Gerhard, from Elliott's Cullentra base this week and Keogh says that will have been a huge blow to the Meath handler.

"If we accept that everyone makes mistakes, it's how you recover that really matters and how you win back that confidence. We will do that as an industry and there's a determination to do that.

"It's been a very tough week but I think the tide turned when Gordon (Elliott) put his hands up, people realised there's a human element to all of this as well.

"This is a guy who came from nowhere and built up a fantastic business with his own skill, he's lost horses, is Envoi Allen the best horse since Arkle?

"That's only one part of it, the other is that he knows he's let himself and his totally let his dedicated team down and he's affected the industry. We'll recover, that recovery is underway."

 

Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

 

The Curragh is the best training establishment in the world

While the National Hunt season is heading toward a climax with the Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown Festivals, we're also on the eve of the new flat campaign with Classic trials on the horizon.

Keogh moved from Leopardstown to take up the chief executive tole at the Curragh in the summer of 2019. He says that while work is needed at the venue, the area is currently a hub of activity with trainers preparing for the new season.

"There's a real air of expectation building, the Curragh right now is a really exciting place to be. Last year was a great year for Irish-trained horses and Curragh-trained horses and we're looking forward to better year ahead.

"I didn't understand of the full scale of the Curragh until I got there. I always knew there were training yards but there's actually close to a thousand horses trained on the Curragh.

"There's 55 trainers with Curragh licensed trainers working on the gallops every day and other trainers from across the country coming to do work. From first light every work there's people working on the gallops.

"There's everything from grass, woodchip, and also sand gallops available side-by-side for preparation. It's a huge industry and there's been huge investment in recent years to restore and improve the gallops.

"The Curragh is the best training establishment in the world - bar none. We've invested because we want more trainers and owners to use the facility, we've been marketing it with videos and thankfully that's going well."

Racing is currently behind closed doors in Ireland but the Curragh CEO is hopeful that some supporters will be allowed through the turnstiles this summer.

"It'll be dictated by the COVID case numbers rather than a fixed date. It'll depend on the roll-out of the vaccine, but I'm hopeful that we'll have 2,000 people in for the Dubai Dubai Free Irish Derby meeting."

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