Leading Irish jockey Nina Carberry was on hand to launch what is one of the most eagerly awaited fixtures of the national hunt calendar, the Shannon Airport Christmas Racing Festival at Limerick Racecourse.
The 2015 renewal will this year boast a staggering prize fund in excess of €450,000, with 28 races to be decided throughout the four-day spectacle which takes place from Saturday, December 26
to Tuesday, December 29
Over 40,000 people are expected to attend the Shannon Airport sponsored extravaganza, making it Ireland's biggest sporting and social gathering of the festive season outside the capital.
The racing action gets underway each day from circa 12:30pm, while there is also a star-studded line-up of events off the track each day which will combine to provide a magical atmosphere.
Sunday, December 27
also has the added attraction of featuring the Sunway Holidays Most Stylish Lady Competition. The lucky winner will walk away with a seven night holiday for two people in a 4* Star resort in Lanzarote to include accommodation, transfers and flights from Shannon Airport.
The fourth and final day of racing, Tuesday 29th December is festive family fun day in association with Cliona's Foundation, the official charity partner of the Shannon Airport Christmas Racing Festival. Limerick Racecourse will be transformed into a children's paradise on Day four with a whole host of free children's activities on offer inside the Greenmount Grotto to ensure the whole family is entertained.
Children under 16 years will enjoy free admission on all four days of the festival.
RTE Racing will also be providing live coverage of the feature race each day on RTE 2 television.
Record breaking Irish jockey Nina Carberry
, said, "The Shannon Airport Christmas Racing Festival at Limerick Racecourse is the premier national hunt meeting in Munster each year and one of the highlights on the Irish racing calendar. There's a fantastic buzz in the run up to and throughout the festival. The track is in super condition, the jockeys love to have a winner in Limerick at Christmas and it attracts huge crowds. It's four days of top-class racing but it's also a brilliant social event. That's one of the beauties of the festival; it is the ultimate family time of year and it is very much a family occasion. From a purely racing perspective, it's a cracking festival, it attracts many of the country's top horses and year-on-year unveils Cheltenham winners. I'm very excited about this year's event and I'm really looking forward to it."
Shannon Group Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Murphy said that the decision to return again this year as sponsor was an easy one. "We came on board last year for the first time and we were delighted with the experience. It really has cornered a market all of its own. The festival is laced with quality, the calibre of racing is phenomenal and it is a superbly run event. That makes it a very attractive option at a time when people, after a few days wrapped up at home, will be glad to get out and enjoy one of the region's annual highlights and we're delighted to be able to support it. It's also a great social outing and there's a superb atmosphere at it. We're looking forward to the off."
Speaking of the 2015 Shannon Airport Christmas Racing Festival , Conor O'Neill, General Manager of Limerick Racecourse said: "This is a really big year for us and the Shannon Airport Christmas Racing Festival continues to grow from strength to strength. Our prize fund has dramatically increased for 2015 to in excess of €450,000 over the four days and it really emphasises the importance that the festival plays. It's also another recovery signal for the region and a really positive one at that. Our Christmas festival has always been a long-standing tradition for the people of Limerick and further afield, the only exception is that 2015 is shaping up to be the biggest one yet.
"We are delighted that Shannon Airport made the commercial decision to continue their partnership as title sponsors of the festival. It is fantastic to have such an iconic international brand and of the regions key players associated with the festival and I'm delighted that they have backed the right horse again!
"We really do have a superb four days of top quality national hunt racing action to look forward to and we have an excellent offering for punters, either through our competitively priced tickets, or indeed, our hospitality packages. Availability is already limited, as we have experienced a staggering amount of pre-sales and have had an unprecedented interest from the UK market as well so I would suggest to those that are interested to act quickly and I look forward to welcoming you to Limerick Racecourse over the festive season."