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New chief executive to take up the reins at Down Royal from the start of 2019

Down Royal is among the most famous racecourses in Ireland
Neil Loughran

THE new chief executive of Down Royal racecourse will take up her role in January - the beginning of an historic year for the iconic racing venue.

Emma Meehan brings more than a decade of experience in racing, stadium management and marketing at Dundalk racecourse.

Her appointment at Down Royal is the first under the new management of Merrion Property Group, who take over the day-to-day operation of the venue from January 1 2019.

New directors have also been confirmed, including Michael O’Rourke, formerly director of marketing and communications with Horse Racing Ireland, Mark Kershaw, formerly racecourse manager at Ayr, Musselburgh and Newbury and Gareth Graham, a leading figure from the bookmaking industry in Northern Ireland.

Joe Collins, former senior clerk of the course for IHRB with over 40 years of experience and manager of several racecourses, will be an advisor to the new team.

Down Royal will stage a full diary of racing for 2019, with the venue hosting the same number of fixtures next year as this, with the same prize money on offer.

Speaking ahead of taking up her new role, Meehan said: “To anyone involved in racing in Northern Ireland, and indeed throughout the island of Ireland, Down Royal is regarded as the pacesetter for modern racecourses and it is a leading venue here and across the UK.

“I recognise that taking on the management of the venue is a challenge as well as an exciting opportunity. Down Royal is an integral part of the overall horseracing and breeding industry and I look forward to being part of its continuing success and development.

“Our aim from day one is to ensure that racegoers continue to enjoy Down Royal and in fact we will enhance the overall Down Royal experience. This is the beginning of an exciting new era for horseracing in Northern Ireland and throughout the island.”

Michael Roden, of Merrion Property Group, added: “We are delighted that Emma is joining us to head up our team as Down Royal begins a new chapter.

“The successful growth that she led at Dundalk and the huge experience that she has in all elements of managing a racecourse gives us every confidence in the future of Down Royal.

“We have spent the last year preparing for the onset of a new era at the venue and we will be ready to mark the opening of the 2019 racing season once transitionary plans are complete.”

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