Friday, May 26, 2023

Johnny Murtagh will be judging some of Ireland’s best jockeys in a Masterchef styled cooking challenge at the launch of the 45th Kildare Derby Festival. Photo: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Brian Redmond, best known for his starring role in the judging hotseat on RTÉ’s Dancing With The Stars, is to join legendary Kildare racing personalities Johnny Murtagh and Willie McCreery to judge some of Ireland’s best jockeys in a Masterchef styled cooking challenge at the launch of the 45th Kildare Derby Festival.

The fun, open air event is to take place in the square in Kildare town on Tuesday 6 June from 6-8pm to launch this year’s Festival and will involve five of Ireland’s top jockeys in a ‘cook off’ whilst representing five of Kildare’s top restaurants.

It’s believed that the five jockeys have already entered ‘chef bootcamp’ in advance of the event and competition amongst the restaurants in training their new recruits is said to have already reached fever pitch!

Each jockey will be coached on the night by the chef of their drawn restaurant and will have to create a salivating savoury dish in just five minutes for the esteemed judging panel to decide on. In the event of a ‘cook off’, the finalists may have to concoct a salacious sweet dish to tantalise the taste buds of the discerning judging panel.

The entrants to this unique competition to launch the big annual festival, which celebrates the running of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Curragh, are as follows;

– Billy Lee representing the Silken Thomas Restaurant

– Chris Hayes representing Hartes Restaurant

– Leigh Roche representing Cunninghams

– Shane Foley representing the Kildare House Hotel

– Rory Cleary representing O’Dooles Restaurant

Orla Murtagh, Chair of the Kildare Derby Committee, noted that “the committee has put together a great selection of events this year to hopefully suit everyone including a concert by the stunning Claudia Boyle in the extraordinary setting of St Brigid’s Cathedral, the ever-popular Pooch Parade, the amazing pop-up Kildare Derby Racing Legends Musuem and free open-air concerts for all the enjoy in the town square including Nathan Carter on July 1st, following the races at the Curragh. The launch on the 6th June is also set to be a great evening for locals to view and get to know some of Ireland’s best jockeys, outside of their comfort zone and in the kitchen.”

Now in its 45th year, the Kildare Derby Festival is set to be the best yet for 2023 with Nathan Carter heading up the free open-air events that run in the town in association with the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Curragh Racecourse.

Running from Monday 26 June until Sunday 2 July, the week-long festival has something on offer for all generations.

The festival draws to a close with Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Day on 2 July with a post-Derby party in Kildare Square featuring live music from Vegas Nights and special guests.

The 158th running of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby takes centre stage during a superb three day racing festival at the world famous Kildare racecourse. ‘Funky Friday’ on the evening of 30 June kicks off the weekend with a competitive 7-race programme and a free concert after racing by Qween, established as one of the best Queen tribute bands around.

Saturday is Ladies Day featuring the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes and Kildare Village Ladies Derby with a performance from Kildare singer-songwriter Lea Heart, while Sunday is Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Day with an exciting line-up of great racing, style and glamour, live music, tasty food and family fun.

The event will come to a close on Sunday evening with a live performance from Spring Break.

See for the full programme of events. A limited number of tickets for Claudia Boyle’s exclusive concert at the stunning St Brigid’s Cathedral on Wednesday 28 June are now available from €25 and can be purchased at Kildare Heritage Centre or from

Entries for the Pooch Parade on Thursday 29 June are on sale now at €10 per dog category and can be purchased from

By Conor Forrest
Contact Newsdesk: 045 432147

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