Sovereign crowned king of The Curragh as Aidan O’Brien-trained horse wins Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby

IRELAND/UAE. Aidan O’Brien-trained outsider Sovereign swooped to capture the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Curragh racecourse in County Kildare on Saturday. The winner, ridden by Padraig Beggy, led from pillar to post to secure a memorable victory on the biggest day in the Irish flat racing calendar.

Sovereign swoops: The 33-1 outsider reaches the winning post ahead of favourite Anthony van Dyck after leading for the full 1.5 miles of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby

The Derby weekend offers vast international media exposure to Dubai Duty Free and culminates in the big race. The world’s leading airport retailer at a single location became sponsor of the festival in 2008, with the prestige and prize purse rising each year. Now with €1.5 million in prize money, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby is Ireland’s most valuable horse race.

Irish pride: Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman & CEO Colm McLoughlin and Senior Vice President Marketing Sinead El Sibai present the trophies to the winning connections of Sovereign on Saturday
Sovereign and Padraig Beggy (left) run clear of the field to win for trainer Aidan O’Brien (Photo: Healy Racing)

Dubai Duty Free spends 2.5% of its annual turnover on marketing each year, most of which is dedicated to sports sponsorship, allowing the company to reach a global audience.

Dubai Duty Free welcomed 320 guests to its Derby Pavilion in the centre of the racecourse, facing a stunning new grandstand which was unveiled in advance of this year’s event.

Colm McLoughlin: Pride in Dubai Duty Free’s rise to become a US$2 billion company and its long association with horse racing in Ireland
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Pavilion as the sun came out at The Curragh on Saturday afternoon, and below, the stunning new grandstand at the Irish track

Welcoming guests, Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Colm McLoughlin hailed the company’s rise to become the leading travel retailer at a single airport, with over US$2 billion in sales in 2018. He noted the company’s remarkable journey since 1983, and its long association with The Curragh and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby since 2008.

After the race, McLoughlin said: “I would like to offer my huge congratulations to the winning connections and also to compliment The Curragh Racecourse on the wonderful new facility. The development is very impressive. This is the 12th Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, however, we have been involved with The Curragh since 2002. We are delighted to be the title sponsor of this prestigious race and thoroughly enjoyed the action and excitement of the festival.”

Industry colleagues and friends join Dubai Duty Free on Irish Derby day. Clockwise from left: Michelle Davitt, Brian Rigney, Barry Geoghegan, Deirdre Sutcliffe, Noel Sutcliffe, Isobel Spillane, David Spillane, Kelly Rafferty, Michael McGinley, Brian King and Carmel King (Photo: Dermot Davitt).
Colm and Breeda McLoughlin at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Pavilion (Photo: Anthony Woods)
Colm McLoughlin welcomes film director Jim Sheridan to the Curragh Racecourse (Photo: Anthony Woods)
UAE Ambassador to Ireland H.E. Sultan Al Ali pictured at The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Photo: Anthony Woods)
Pictured at the Best Dressed Person award were (from left) Emma Madigan from The K Club, Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Lifestyle Ambassador Bairbre Power, Winner of the Dubai Duty Free Best Dressed Competition Moira O’Toole, Breeda McLoughlin and fashionista Lorraine Keane (Photo: Conor Healy/ Picture It Photography)

The festival also included other high-profile events, among them a golf classic on 27 June at the K Club, where a team led by former Irish soccer star Niall Quinn emerged on top.

On Friday a charity event titled Under StARTers Orders saw six lifesize horses made of fibreglass by Irish artists sold to benefit the Irish Injured Jockeys and Sensational Kids causes.

Kildare County honours Colm McLoughlin

In other news, Colm McLoughlin has been recognised for his and Dubai Duty Free’s contribution to County Kildare (home of The Curragh) by the Kildare County Council. Members of the Council, led by Cathaoirleach (Chair) Suzanne Doyle, presented him with a piece of sculpture made by local artist Noel Scullion.

McLoughlin said: “It is a great honour to receive this award from Kildare County Council. I am deeply touched that the contribution of Dubai Duty Free to the County of Kildare has been honoured in this way.”

Suzanne Doyle said: “I am delighted to extend this award to Colm Mcloughlin. Colm has made a fantastic and positive contribution to our county through Dubai Duty Free’s sponsorship of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh Racecourse over the last 12 years and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open which was held in the K Club in 2016.”

Colm McLoughlin and his wife Breeda accept the special award from Kildare County Council Chair Suzanne Doyle last week

The focus moves later this week to Lahinch, County Clare, and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, which has attracted many leading golfers from around the world. The Moodie Davitt Report will be on location to bring you images and words from the event from Wednesday.

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