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Multimillion-euro track and stables for harness racing gets green light

August 22nd, 2023 8:00 AM

By Martin Claffey

Multimillion-euro track and stables for harness racing gets green light Image
The design plan for the multimillion euro harness racing track in Lyre, which has received permission.

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PLANNING permission has been granted for a multimillion-euro harness racing track and stables near Clonakilty, which has been described as a ‘game-changer’ for the sport.

Full planning permission has been granted to develop an 800m all-weather track at Lyre, with a barn, 20 stables, tack and feed rooms, along with parking facilities. It is hoped to have the track in place in 2024.

‘This will be a very important development for the sport,’ said Michéal Duggan, a development committee member on the project.

‘The track will be mostly used for training, with some racing. There is a big demand for this type of facility. I would say when built we would have the 20 stables full very quickly. At the moment many trainers have to train on fields at home or on beaches, following beach by-laws. This track would be a game-changer for our sport.’

Mr Duggan said that the sport is growing increasingly popular in West Cork and indeed nationwide, with a lot of breeding of pacer and trotter horses in the county.

The plans for the track in Lyre are part of a wider development strategy by the Irish Harness Racing Association, which includes a joint venture with a GAA club for a track and facilities development in Dublin. The total development cost of the Cork and Dublin projects is estimated at €8m.

Funding for the Cork and Dublin projects was found through an immigrant investor programme (IIP) application – this is currently awaiting approval by the Department of Justice. The programme allows non-nationals to secure immigration permission in Ireland on the basis of long-term investment in projects approved by the Department of Justice. Five investors have been secured by the Irish Harness Racing Association to fund their €8m plans.

The news of the planning approval for the track development in Lyre comes ahead of one of the biggest weekends of the year for the sport, the Red John Memorial, which takes place in Lyre on Saturday August 19th and Sunday August 20th at 2pm each day.

Trainers will bring horses from across Ireland and the UK to Lyre, with harness drivers coming from France to take part. Big crowds are expected for the pace and trot racing and the Irish Harness Racing Association welcomes new fans also, with food facilities and children’s entertainment over the weekend.  

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