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Trial of Padded Hurdles at Curragh Training Grounds



A trial of horses schooling over padded hurdles took place on Wednesday 27th March 2019, on the Curragh Training Grounds, Co. Kildare.

The padded hurdles which are in use at a number of racecourses in the UK were purchased by the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee (INHSC).

During the trial, horses schooled over 3 flights of padded hurdles up to 3 times each.

Trainers who provided horses to take part in the schooling included Willie Mullins, Alan Fleming, Conor O’Dwyer, Shay Slevin, Fergal Birrane, Seamus Fahey and Eric McNamara.

Riders who took part schooling included Ruby Walsh, Paul Townend, Danny Mullins, Rachael Blackmore, Brian Hayes, Donagh Meyler, Donie McInerney, J.J. Slevin, Ricky Doyle and Ryan Treacy.

Bill Watt, CEO Wattfences Ltd (U.K.), who manufactured and supplied the padded hurdles, was present, along with the 5 IHRB Clerks of Courses, Michael Grassick, Chief Executive of the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, Andrew Coonan, Secretary of the Irish Jockeys Association, various racecourse managers and ground staff, other trainers, riders and interested parties.

The INHSC was represented by Martin O’Donnell, Deputy Senior Steward, Josh Byrne, Registrar and Committee members Michael Hickey and John Powell.  Derek McGrath, Chief Executive and Amy Moran, Head of Operations attended on behalf of Curragh Racecourse Limited.

The trial was held with a view to the possible future introduction of padded hurdles on Irish racecourses. The feedback from participants on the day was very positive and the idea of padded hurdles met with broad approval. Michael Grassick commented: “the concept is good and padding gives added protection to the horse and this would reduce the number of cuts and abrasions which they can get with the existing hurdles.”

Commenting on the trial of the padded hurdles, Paul Murtagh IHRB Head of Raceday Operations said: “I welcome all the feedback from those present which is invaluable and I would like to thank everyone who participated and attended for their input. These padded hurdles are the result of many years research and development in the UK and are now in use at 12 racecourses. In their current format and design, I would have no hesitation in recommending to the Directors of the IHRB that they approve their use should any racecourse seek to introduce them.”

The INHSC would like to thank the Curragh Training Grounds Manager and his staff for erecting the padded hurdles and assisting with the trial and the Curragh Racecourse Limited for hosting the trial and incorporating the padded hurdles into their training facilities going forward. Any trainer wishing to use them should contact the Curragh Training Grounds Manager for further information.


For further information, please contact:

Paul Murtagh, Head of Raceday Operations

Phone: 045 445600                                                                                 






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