A restored full fixture allocation for the Curragh and more blank Sundays during the summer are two of the principal features of the 2019 fixture list released by Horse Racing Ireland.
The opening of the newly-redeveloped Curragh will see the home of Irish Flat racing stage 19 meetings in a much changed configuration.
The Curragh season starts on Saturday, April 13 with a three-day Guineas Spring Festival taking place between Friday, May 24 and Sunday, May 26 – with a Group One race run each day.
The Irish Derby Festival moves to a Thursday-to-Saturday schedule in late June, with the Irish Derby now providing the climax on the Saturday.
The Flat turf season will continue to commence and conclude at Naas, with high-quality Sunday fixtures taking place on March 24 and November 3 respectively.
The number of completely blank Sundays in the summer months has been increased from three to five, while there will be five other Sundays during the Flat turf season with no Flat racing scheduled.
The two built-in breaks for National Hunt jockeys have been retained, with the late June to early July break extended from nine to 12 days.
The total number of fixtures for 2019 is 361, compared to 363 in 2018. There are a further two summer fixtures to be allocated to Dundalk pending clarification over plans to replace the all-weather surface.
Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of HRI, said: “The 2019 fixture list has been developed with the needs of both the customer and those working in the industry in mind.
“2018 enhancements such as extra Festival dates at Bellewstown, Killarney and Galway, and the newly-inaugurated Dublin Racing Festival have been retained, while an exciting new fixture list for the Curragh will coincide with the opening of the redeveloped racecourse.
“Consideration has also been taken of the needs of the industry’s workforce with the introduction of extra blank Sundays and earlier finishing times where possible.
“2019 will be an exciting year for Irish racing and the publication of the fixture list certainly whets the appetite.”