Horse racing has a rich history in Ireland as the sport has taken place here for the past couple of decades where some of the best thoroughbreds ever produced have originated in the country. If you enjoy going to the races for a day out or have never been before, here are five courses you should look to visit.
1. Curragh Racecourse, Co. Kildare
The Curragh, based in County Kildare, is the most prestigious flat racecourse in Ireland. It is the home of all four Classics, the Irish Derby, Irish Oaks, Irish 2000 Guineas and Irish 1000 Guineas. The atmosphere on these racedays is fantastic as the leading three-year-old-thoroughbreds in Europe battle it out to find out who is the best of their generation. Given how big these races are, a lot is written about the candidates beforehand so if you are looking to have a bet and want to do some research, The Winners Enclosure will provide a NAP of the day which is horse that is most likely to win. You can also take advantage of a sign up offer with a bookmaker if you’d like to place your bet before arriving at the track.
2. Ballybrit Racecourse, Co. Galway
If you prefer national hunt racing, where the horses have to jump over hurdles or fences, Galway may be the meeting for you. This racecourse comes alive for a seven-day festival every August where it attracts a huge crowd for the racing that week. The Galway Festival is many horse racing enthusiasts’ favourite week on the calendar and book to attend every year. The racecourse is famously known as the place in which Pope John Paul II celebrated mass in 1979 in front of 280,000 people when he visited Ireland.
3. Laytown Racecourse, Co. Meath
One of the most unique places to watch horse racing anywhere in the world is Laytown. The venue takes place at a beach in County Meath. It is the only racecourse on the planet that is sanctioned to put on racing under rules. Racing has been held at the beach since 1868 but today there is only one meeting a year which takes place in September. The straight-course consists of a seven furlong distance along the beach and is supported by the best jockeys and trainers in Ireland.
4. Leopardstown Racecourse, Co. Dublin
Leopardstown Racecourse is situated just 8km south of Dublin and it is one of the few major tracks in Ireland to hold flat and national hunt racing. The best horses from the UK and Ireland travel to Leopardstown who hold lots of Group races across the year. The Irish Champion Stakes, which was won in 2017 by Decorated Knight, is the biggest race of the year at the course and it takes place annually in September. This racecourse is very easy to get to by public transport and the facilities are top class as the course has invested a lot of money to ensure racegoers have the best possible experience on their visit.
5. Punchestown Racecourse, Co. Kildare
Punchestown is regarded as the home of national hunt racing in Ireland and they put on the biggest festival of the year every April. The meeting takes place a month after Cheltenham in the UK and often many of the rivals in each division compete against each other one last time before the season comes to an end. The Punchestown Gold Cup if the feature race of the week where the best chasers compete over three miles and one furlong. The 2017 running of the contest was won by Sizing John who had come out on top just weeks earlier in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
If you are going racing, always check on the racecourse’s official website well in advance where you can find advice on tickets, dress code and what you can and can’t take with you onto the racecourse on your visit.