LEOPARDSTOWN Racecourse has taken on board criticism it received last weekend from racegoers who had to endure long queues at bars during the Dublin Racing Festival.

The problem was most severe on Saturday due mainly to a lack of suitably experienced staff provided to the racecourse caterers by an employment agency. The same company was also providing catering staff for Saturday’s rugby international in the nearby Aviva Stadium where the crowd was roughly four times bigger than Leopardstown.

Damp conditions at Leopardstown also forced racegoers indoors for longer spells than usual.

Additional staff were made available on Sunday and the service was reportedly much improved.

Return of crowds

Last weekend marked the return of large crowds to Leopardstown for the first time in exactly two years, and it was the first time many of the new facilities were tested.

Leopardstown CEO Tim Husbands said: “It’ll take time for racegoers to get used to the facilities and where they are, so we need to enhance site orientation for them, and make it easy to find their new favourite places.”

Asked if he was confident that last Saturday’s queues were a one-off, he said: “I think that it’s not a challenge just for Leopardstown but one for the hospitality industry in Ireland generally as we move into the opening-up phase, coming out of Covid.

“We need to ensure all of our front-facing staff are well-trained and familiar with the site and facilities. Ten days’ planning notice to an open capacity racemeeting, and achieving and servicing nearly 25,000 people, is generally a credit to the team across all our services, whilst absolutely recognising that, as with any other business, we can always do better. We learnt a lot over the weekend that we can take into future racemeetings, for sure.”

One frequently voiced complaint last weekend was that the Champions Bar, located beside the area where horses enter and exit the parade ring, was restricted to owners and trainers. Husbands said: “It was made into an additional facility for owners and trainers to complement the food offering served upstairs in the Leopardstown Lounge, where it always is.

“The Champions Bar served as a bar for the owners and trainers and it was very busy in the area, across both days, particularly because of the number of owners (clubs, syndicates, groups) who were present. It was used for this one meeting only and we will revert to the normal service for future meetings.”

Ground conditions

On the track, the racing last weekend could not be faulted and ground conditions appeared to be well-received. “The feedback was all very positive from jockeys, owners and trainers alike,” Husbands said. “They were delighted with the going and indeed appreciating the hard work of the track team in achieving it.”