The 10 BIGGEST annual Irish HORSE RACING events

Delve into the heart-pounding action of Ireland’s top horse racing spectacles, from the Irish Derby Festival to the Galway Races.

The 10 biggest annual Irish horse racing events.

When it comes to the exhilarating world of horse racing, Ireland stands tall with a proud tradition of hosting some of the most prominent and thrilling racing events globally.

From the heart-pounding action at the Irish Derby Festival to the prestigious Irish Oaks, Irish horse racing offers diverse experiences for fans.

In this article, we’ll explore the ten biggest annual Irish horse racing events that capture the essence of the sport.

Ireland Before You Die’s interesting facts about horse racing in Ireland:

  • Horse racing has a long and storied history in Ireland, dating back over two centuries. The first recorded horse race in Ireland took place in 1666.
  • The Irish Derby, held at the Curragh, is one of Ireland’s most prestigious horse races. It was first run in 1866 and is part of the Irish Triple Crown, along with the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Irish St. Leger.
  • Ireland has produced some of the world’s top horse racing trainers and jockeys. Names like Aidan O’Brien and Ruby Walsh are well-known in the horse racing world.
  • Horse racing is deeply ingrained in the culture of Ireland. You will often find people in local pubs cheering on their favourite horses, perhaps because they have a bet on!

10. Dublin Racing Festival (February) – fierce competition, substantial prize money

Dublin Racing Festival is one of the biggest annual Irish horse racing events.
Credit: Facebook / @LeopardstownRacecourse

Hosted at Leopardstown Racecourse in Dublin, this festival features the Irish Champion Stakes and Irish Oaks, drawing the crème de la crème of Irish horse racing. The competition is fierce, and the prize money is substantial.

9. The Irish Grand National (April) – a thrilling race

The Irish Grand National.
Credit: Facebook / Fairyhouse Racecourse

Located in County Meath, Fairyhouse Racecourse hosts the Irish Grand National, a thrilling race that captivates both novices and seasoned punters alike.

8. Munster Oaks (June) – showcasing the sport’s regional popularity

Munster Oaks is one of the biggest annual Irish horse racing events.
Credit: Facebook / Cork Racecourse Mallow

Cork Racecourse in County Cork offers a diverse racing calendar, with feature races like the Munster Oaks and Munster Derby, showcasing the sport’s regional charm.

7. Listowel Races (September) – a unique Irish racing experience

Listowel Races is one of the biggest annual Irish horse racing events.
Credit: Facebook / Listowel Racecourse

Listowel Races, held in County Kerry, signal the arrival of autumn. This event features the Guinness Kerry National Handicap Chase and provides a unique Irish racing experience.

6. Munster National (October) – attracts some top talent

The Munster National attracts some top talent.
Credit: Facebook / Limerick Racecourse

Limerick Racecourse, situated in County Limerick, hosts the annual Munster National, a prominent national hunt race that draws top talent.

5. Ladbrokes Champion Chase (October/November) – hosts a highlight of the National Hunt calendar

The Ladbrokes Champion Chase is one of the biggest annual Irish horse racing events.
Credit: Instagram / @twenclosure

Located in County Down, Northern Ireland, Down Royal Racecourse boasts the Ladbrokes Champion Chase, a highlight of the National Hunt calendar.

4. Punchestown Festival (Late April) – a five-day celebration of Irish horse racing

A 5-day event.
Credit: Flickr / Gordon Flood 

Punchestown Festival is a five-day extravaganza of national hunt racing held in County Kildare.

This event is renowned for its thrilling Punchestown Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle races, attracting top jockeys, trainers, and fillies.

3. Galway Races (July) – come for the races, stay for the city

Galway Races is one of the biggest annual Irish horse racing events.
Credit: commonswikimedia.org

Nestled in the heart of County Galway, the Galway Races is a summer festival that oozes Irish charm.

The Galway Hurdle and Galway Plate are the star attractions, and the vibrant atmosphere in the city centre makes it a must-visit for racegoers.

2. Irish Guineas (May) – taking place at one of the oldest racecourses in Ireland

Taking place at one of the oldest Irish race courses.
Credit: geograph.ie

The Curragh has a storied history dating back to the 1700s, making it one of Ireland’s oldest and most prestigious racecourses. Its rich heritage is deeply entwined with Irish horse racing culture.

Situated in County Kildare, the Curragh is a year-round hub of Irish horse racing. It hosts various prestigious races, including the Irish Guineas and the classics.

1. Irish Derby Festival (June) – an absolute spectacle

The Irish Derby is one of the biggest annual Irish horse racing events.
Credit: Flickr / Florian Christoph

Commencing the horse racing season in style, the Irish Derby Festival in County Kildare is an absolute spectacle.

Established in 1866, this festival features the prestigious Irish Derby itself, where three-year-old thoroughbred colts vie for glory and substantial prize money.

These ten events encapsulate the grandeur and excitement of Irish horse racing. Whether you’re a passionate punter or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, Ireland’s horse racing scene has something for everyone.

Notable mentions

The Sligo Races are set in a beautitul location.
Credit: commonswikimedia.org

Sligo Races (August): Sligo Races, set against the backdrop of County Sligo’s scenic beauty, offer a delightful racing experience. The Martin Reilly Hyundai Sligo Derby is a standout event.

Kilbeggan Races (throughout the year): Kilbeggan Races in County Westmeath provide a charming rural setting for horse racing. The Midlands National and Midlands Grand National are notable races here.

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Ballinrobe Races (throughout the year): Ballinrobe Races, nestled in County Mayo, feature the prestigious Ballinrobe Guinness Handicap Chase and showcase the warm hospitality of the West of Ireland.

Your questions answered about the biggest annual Irish horse racing events

If you still have questions, we have you covered! In this section, we’ve compiled some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions and popular questions that have been asked online about this topic.

What are the biggest horse racing meetings in Ireland?

Ireland’s biggest horse racing meetings include the Irish Derby Festival, Punchestown Festival, Galway Races, and Dublin Racing Festival.

What are the main events in Irish horse racing?

Some of the main events in Irish horse racing include the Irish Derby, Irish Grand National, Irish Champion Stakes, Galway Hurdle, and Galway Plate.

What is the biggest horse racing event?

The biggest horse racing event in Ireland is widely considered to be the Irish Derby, a prestigious race that attracts top three-year-old colts.

What is the most famous horse race in Ireland?

Ireland’s most famous horse race is the Irish Grand National, known for its rich history and thrilling jumps, held at the Fairyhouse Racecourse in County Meath.

Find Your Dream Hotel in Ireland

On the hunt for the ultimate hotel for your Irish adventure? Explore a curated selection ranging from the charming heritage of boutique accommodations in Dublin's vibrant heart to the tranquil luxury of rural retreats and the captivating coastal vistas. Start your search below to find the perfect stay with our trusted hotel partner.



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