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Grade one hospitality under orders at Limerick Racecourse this festive season

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David Fitzgerald casts his eye over the catering at Limerick Racecourse, and below, Conor runs the rule over the bar

David Fitzgerald casts his eye over the catering at Limerick Racecourse, and below, Conor runs the rule over the bar

LIMERICK Racecourse is under starters orders with an army of staff gearing up to feed and water over 40,000 people during its Christmas Racing Festival.

The huge four day festival now boasts the first Grade 1 race to be run in Munster with the prestigious Greenmount Park Novice Chase. The race is the centrepiece of the high-class St Stephen’s Day card which attracts thousands to the racecourse for its annual outing.

Behind the scenes, keeping a staggering 40,000 people fed and watered over the four day Christmas Racing Festival is no easy feat but David and Conor Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald’s Woodlands House Hotel take it in their stride.

David and Conor and their team have been looking after the catering at Limerick Racecourse since 2010, and this year marks their ninth Christmas festival at the Patrickswell venue.

Woodlands Catering will contract 140 staff to keep the show on the road from December 26 onwards, with 40 chefs in place to ensure that the festival hospitality runs as smooth as possible.

The first chef arrives onsite at Limerick Racecourse at 5am on St Stephen’s morning and it is all systems go until racing finishes at 4pm. Ovens are heated, meat is cooked and sandwiches are prepared to cater for the 13,000 strong crowd expected for the opening day of the festival.

A team of six pastry chefs will spend an average of 600 hours producing over 4,500 portions of handmade desserts. Everything is done on a huge scale and has to be ready each day for 12.30pm as patrons flock to Greenmount Park in time for the first race.

Indeed, the quantity of food and drink expected to be consumed over the four days is breathtaking:

  • 320kg Roasted Fillet of Irish Angus Beef will be prepared
  • 600 loafs of freshly baked bread will be served
  • 5.5 Tonnes of Fresh Vegetables and Organic Potatoes
  • Over 2,200 bottles of wine will be poured in the hospitality venues
  • 6,900 measures of Irish whiskey will be served in the bars at the Racecourse
  • 25,500 pints will be poured by 50 bar tenders
  • 18,500 cups of tea and coffee will be ordered
  • 7,800 sandwich portions will be handmade

There are four floors in the Hugh McMahon stand at the Racecourse. The Tote Hall on the ground floor has the bar and the Woodlands Coffee Dock where patrons can enjoy a hot beef roll and a beverage between races. The Tote Hall also houses the aptly named Fitz ‘N Chips, the fast food restaurant.

The second floor is the Munster Suite and is the main floor of the race course with a carvery restaurant and covered viewing terrace and bar area complete with big screen TVs.

The reserved Greenmount Restaurant, which can seat 550 people, offers panoramic views overlooking the track and is extremely popular each day of the festival. Guests can relax and enjoy a four course deluxe menu or the ever popular buffet which features a selection of dishes from around the world.

There are also 14 private boxes on the third floor which can cater for groups of 20 to 100. The private boxes offer excellent views across the track and are in popular demand each year.

The Limerick Christmas Racing Festival runs from Wednesday, December 26 until Saturday, December 29 and is the largest gathering in the Mid-West region over the festival period. For more information or details of Christmas packages, please visit www.limerickraces.ie or call the team on 061-320000.