Ireland has been a dominant force on the world's racing stage for many years now and has a very rich heritage of breeding, horse racing betting and success at the highest level.

In fact the Irish are rather privileged when it comes to horse racing with 26 racecourses on the Emerald Isle, which works out more per head of population than any other country on the globe.

Irish Racecourses - List:

  1. Ballinrobe

  2. Bellewstown

  3. Clonmel

  4. Cork

  5. Curragh

  6. Down Royal

  7. Downpatrick

  8. Dundalk

  9. Fairyhouse

  10. Galway

  11. Gowran Park

  12. Kilbeggan

  13. Killarney

  14. Laytown

  15. Leopardstown

  16. Limerick

  17. Listowel

  18. Naas

  19. Navan

  20. Punchestown

  21. Roscommon

  22. Sligo

  23. Thurles

  24. Tipperary

  25. Tramore

  26. Wexford

With close to 360 meetings held annually and around 2,000 races taking place, you are never short of an Irish racecourse to either visit or have a bet on.

Irish racecourses are visited by over 1.3m people every year and their races are broadcast all over the world, thus creating quite a large fan base.

Let’s take an alphabetical trip around the island of Ireland and get a flavour of what you can expect to see at each of the 26 tracks:

Ballinrobe (Co Mayo)

A right handed sharp circuit of 1m 4f which favours horses that run prominently – hosts both jumps and flat racing.

Ballinrobe plays host to 8 fixtures between May and September, the most notable of which is a two-day July meeting which has the Tote Handicap as its feature.

Bellewstown (Co Meath)

A left handed sharp circuit of 1m 1f with a 3f uphill finish – host both jumps and flat racing. This rural course boasts amazing views of the Mountains of Mourne and the Irish Sea.

The course stages two festivals, one in first week of July and the other at the end of August with the Mullacurry Cup Handicap Hurdle being their main race of the season.

Clonmel (Co Tipperary)

A right-handed undulating circuit of 1m 2f - the finish is uphill for 2 1/2f – hosts both jumps and flat racing.

Clonmel is one of the busiest tracks in the country, holding 12 meetings between February and December.

The Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Steeplechase is the highlight of the year.

Cork (Co Cork)

A right-handed level, galloping track with circuit of 1m 2f – hosts both jumps and flat racing.

Cork has 18 meetings scheduled on its calendar each season. Their major races include the Munster Oaks and the Give Thanks Stakes (Flat) the Grade 2 Hilly Way Chase (Jumps).

Curragh (Co Kildare)

A right-handed level, galloping track with horseshoe circuit of 2m and testing uphill finish - hosts flat racing.

10 of the 12 Group 1’s in Ireland take place here with the biggest of them bring the Irish Derby, which takes place in late June and is worth over €1.5m in prize money.

Down Royal (Co Antrim)

A right-handed undulating, galloping track with 4f run-in circuit of 1m 7f and testing uphill finish – hosts both jumps and flat racing.

The highlight on the flat is the Ulster Derby and Oaks, which are run each June, while the JNwine.com Champion Chase is their jumps showpiece.

Downpatrick (Co Down)

A right-handed undulating, sharp track with stiff uphill finish and circuit of 1m 2f – host both jumps and flat racing.

The highlight of their season is the Ulster National, which is recognised as a trial race for the Irish Grand National.

Dundalk (Co Louth)

Left-handed All-Weather polytrack - circuit 1m 2f - also has a greyhound race track.

The track hosts 37 meetings in total with the most notable race being the Group 3 Diomed Stakes.  Many stars of Irish flat racing have made their debuts here in recent years.

Fairyhouse (Co Meath)

A right-handed galloping track with 3f uphill finish (circuit 1m 6f) - hosts both flat and jumps.

Their most notable fixture is without doubt the Grand National meeting held over three days on the Easter Weekend culminating with the Irish Grand National itself on Easter Monday.

Galway (Co Galway)

Right-handed undulating track with sharp descent before 2f uphill finish - a testing circuit 1m 2f. Hosts both flat and jumps.

The 7-day Galway Festival is one of the most famous meetings in Irish racing from both a racing social, and betting point of view.

Gowran Park (Co Kilkenny)

Right-handed undulating track favouring prominent runners - on a 1m 4f circuit. Hosts both flat and jumps.

17 meetings are held throughout the year with the highlight of those being the Thyestes Chase meeting in mid-January.

Kilbeggan (Co Westmeath)

Right-handed sharp undulating track with short run-in, favouring front runners - on a 1m 1f circuit. Hosts Jumps only.

8 meetings take place between April and September, the highlight of which being the Midlands National meeting held in July.

Killarney (Co Kerry)

Left-handed sharp flat track with short run-in, on a 1m 2f circuit. Hosts both jumps and flat.

Killarney holds 11 fixtures each year which are separated into three racing festivals, May (3 days), July (4 days), and August (4 days).

Laytown (Co Meath)

Track on Laytown beach. Fast sand surface.

Laytown has only one meeting every year on the 13th of September. Prior to the in introduction of stalls in 2015, all races here took place via a flag start

Leopardstown (Dublin)

Left-handed flat galloping track with 3f run-in on a 1m 6f circuit. Hosts jumps and flat.

Flat highlights include the Irish Champions Weekend in September, whilst over the jumps there is the Christmas Festival which has seven Grade 1's taking place. It is also the home of the Irish Champion Hurdle in January.

Limerick (Co Limerick)

Right-handed undulating track with easy finish and on a 1m 3f circuit. Hosts both jumps and flat.

Limerick stages a total of 18 flat and jumps meetings combined with the biggest race being The Munster National worth €100k in October.

Listowel (Co Kerry)

Left-handed flat track with 2f run in and on a 1m circuit. Host both jumps and flat.

Listowel is the venue of the famous seven-day Harvest Festival meeting in September with the big race being the Kerry National Handicap Chase.

Naas (Co Kildare)

Left-handed undulating galloping track with stiff uphill finish and on a 1m 4f circuit. Hosts jumps and flat.

The highlight of the Naas year is the National Hunt meeting in January. The pinnacle of the flat season is the Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes which often produces Group One performers.

Punchestown (Co Kildare)

Right-handed, undulating track on main course; sharper on inside. Hurdle circuit 1m6f. Chase circuit 2m. Banks circuit 3m. Hosts jumps racing only.

Every April Punchestown hold their five-day festival, featuring no fewer than 12 Grade One races. The stars of the jumping season tend to have one last hoorah here but their summer break.

Roscommon (Co Roscommon)

Right-handed, sharp track with 3f run-in. 1m2f circuit. Hosts both flat and jumps.

The highlight over jumps is the Grade 3 Kilbegnet Novice Chase in September while on the flat front, the Listed Lenebane Stakes takes place mid-July.

Sligo (Co Sligo)

Right-handed oval track, with 2f run-in and uphill finish. 1m circuit. Hosts both flat and jumps.

Sligo contains no major race in the Irish calendar but it does hold eight meeting per year, including a Family Day and Student Day.

Thurles (Co Tipperary)

Right-handed undulating track with climb to back straight and descent to final bend and then an uphill finish.1m 2f circuit. Jumps only.

Thurles hosts two top Grade 2 contests with the Kinloch Brae Chase in January being the pick of the pair.

Tipperary (Co Tipperary)

Right-handed undulating track with climb to back straight and descent to final bend and then an uphill finish .1m 2f circuit. Hosts both jumps and flat.

The highlight of the Tipperary season is the “Super Sunday” mixed card in October, which includes a Grade 3 novice hurdle, a Grade 3 novice chase, the Grade 2 Tipperary Hurdle, and the Group 3 Concorde Stakes.

Tramore (Co Waterford)

Right-handed undulating oval track of 8f with 1f uphill finish. Hosts jumps and flat.

One of the trickiest courses in Ireland and it holds an August Festival, which runs for over four days each year. The New Year’s Day meeting features the well known Listed Holden Plant Rentals Chase.

Wexford (Co Wexford)

Left-handed fairly sharp track of 1m 2f circuit with short 1f run-in. Jumps only.

Wexford hosts 12 fixtures every year between March and November and with no major meetings in the horse racing calendar. Most of the fixtures are held on a Friday evening in the summer are well attended by the locals.


*Credit for the main photo belongs to Mark Humphrey / AP Photo*

 

FIRST PUBLISHED: 3rd December 2019

About the Author
By
Steve Mullington

Steven is a sports and horseracing enthusiast and is a member of the Horseracing Writers and Photographers Association (HWPA) in the United Kingdom.

He is a regular visitor to Paris Longchamp for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and a lifelong fan of the Aintree Grand National, a subject he writes about 52 weeks of the year. Last year he reached the impressive milestone of attending the last 25 renewals of the Grand National.