Ronan Keating to play Saturday night at Derby

Former Boyzone singer Ronan Keating is to play at the Curragh on the Saturday night of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Former Boyzone singer Ronan Keating is to play at the Curragh on the Saturday night of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

The X Factor Australia judge said on Tuesday evening that he is “very excited” about the gig.

“It is great to be able to be at home and to be able to perform,” he told a packed crowd at the official Derby launch event at Straffan’s K Club, where Keating is a regular and former resident.

He said playing the gig at the Derby would be a “great event and a great way of getting people who do not go racing in the door.

“I haven’t done a gig in a while so I’m looking forward to getting the band back together,” he said.

Keating will not be the only musical star to play at the Curragh during the Derby - The Voice judge Bressie will play on the Friday night and Curragh management are hopeful of confirming another headline act for the Sunday over the next couple of weeks.

Naas soprano Celine Byrne will take over the prestigious job of singing the traditional ‘Curragh of Kildare’ air before the Derby is run.

In other good news for the Curragh, current sponsors Dubai Duty Free have announced that they will be extending their current sponsorship of the Irish Derby to 2015, which will be the 150th anniversary of the first running of the Derby.

President of Dubai Duty Free, Clare man George Horan, made the announcement at Tuesday evening’s launch, noting that the company was very pleased with the results of the sponsorship, which they first took up in 2008.

This year, the Derby will take place as the last race on the Saturday night of the three-day festival, which will take place from Friday June 28 to Sunday June 20 next.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien, who was also at the K Club, would not be drawn on whether Epsom Derby winner Camelot would take part in the Derby. He said the team would wait and see how the horse is over the next fortnight before making a decision. “Obviously we will wait and see how Camelot is, obviously we would love to see him run,” said Mr O’Brien.

His son, jockey Joseph, added: “The Irish Derby is a great race and the Curragh is the fairest track, usually the best horse wins. It will be all systems go if everything comes up well in the next couple of weeks.”

Evan Arkwright, commercial manager of the Curragh, also announced the ultimate fashion fashion face-off between Ireland’s Best Dressed Ladies, which will take place on the Sunday of the festival.

All ladies who have won a Best Dressed competition at a racecourse in Ireland over the past year will be invited to take part in the ‘Ultimate Ladies Day’, with a prize of an exclusively designed Ben DeLisi outfit, sponsored by Debenhams, for the winner.

The Curragh’s own Ladies Day competition, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free and Boodles, will this year take part on the Saturday of the festival.

For more Derby news and photos from the launch, see next week’s Leinster Leader

- Laura Coates