The 5 best racecourses to visit in Ireland in 2020

Are you a horse racing fan and thinking of travelling to Ireland? We’ve got you covered with the top racecourses across the country to visit this year.

Horse racing has a rich history in Ireland as the sport has been popular throughout the past couple of decades. As well as that, some of the best thoroughbreds ever produced have originated in this country. The sport has blossomed into one of Ireland’s most popular.

Approximately 80,000 people attend racecourses in Ireland every year. If you enjoy going to the races for a day out or have never been before, why don’t you become one of those many thousands visiting these five best racecourses in Ireland in 2020?

5. Ballybrit Racecourse (Co. Galway) – for a festival of racing 

Ballybrit Racecourse is the racecourse that hosts the world-renowned Galway Races.

If you prefer National Hunt racing, where the horses have to jump over hurdles or fences, Galway may be the place for you. This racecourse comes alive for a seven-day festival every August. It attracts a massive crowd for the racing that week.

The Galway Festival is many horse-racing enthusiasts’ favourite week on the calendar. The racecourse is also famously known as the place in which Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in 1979 in front of 280,000 people when he visited the country.

Address: Ballybrit, Galway, H91 V654, Ireland

4. Punchestown Racecourse (Co. Kildare) – the home of National Hunt racing

Punchestown Racecourse is the home of National Hunt racing, another of the best racecourses in Ireland.
Credit: @hurley_jane / Instagram

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 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 is the feature race of the week where the best chasers compete for over three miles and one furlong. The 2019 running of the contest was won by Kemboy. Take a trip to the town of Naas for one of the best racecourses to visit in Ireland in 2020.

You can make bets here and pay by cash, card or if you’d like to bet in advance, you could use online bookies such as betway88.

Address: Punchestown, Naas, Co. Kildare, Ireland

3. Laytown Racecourse (Co. Meath) – for the coastal route

Laytown Racecourse is a coastal route and unique course, another of the best racecourses in Ireland.

One of the most unique places to watch horse racing anywhere in the world is Laytown, located at a beach in County Meath in the east of Ireland. It is the only racecourse on the planet that is sanctioned to put on races under the Rules of Racing.

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.

Address: Strand Rd, Ninch, Laytown, Co. Meath, Ireland

2. Leopardstown Racecourse (Co. Dublin) – for the best of the best

Leopardstown Racecourse is another of the best racecourses in Ireland, the Irish Champion Stakes is the biggest race there.
Horseracing at Leopardstown as seen from the stands

Undoubtedly one of the best racecourses in Ireland is Leopardstown Racecourse, situated just 8 km south of Dublin. It is one of the few significant tracks in Ireland to hold Flat and National Hunt racing. The best horses from the UK and Ireland travel to Leopardstown, and it holds lots of group races every year.

The Irish Champion Stakes, which was won in 2019 by Magical Galileo, 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 during their visit.

Address: Leopardstown Racecourse, Foxrock, Dublin 18, D18 C9V6, Ireland

1. Curragh Racecourse (Co. Kildare) – home of the Classics

Curragh Racecourse is one of the best racecourses in Ireland

The Curragh is the most prestigious Flat racecourse in Ireland and is the home of all four Classics; the Irish Derby, Irish Oaks, Irish 2000 Guineas, and Irish 1000 Guineas. The atmosphere 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 prominent 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 on which horse 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.

Address: Newbridge, Co. Kildare, R56 RR67, Ireland

Make sure to check on the racecourse’s official website well in advance. There you can find advice on tickets and dress code. And, if you are one of those punters, you can always bet online on sites like betway88. Your trip to Ireland’s racecourses just got a whole lot easier.

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Note: our travel articles should be used only to plan future trips. Please stay at home until the government has advised otherwise.

Dan O'Muirigh is a keen travel writer from Belfast, County Antrim. He is a passionate sports man who plays Gaelic football for Naomh Gall GAC. He recently graduated with a degree in Law but instead wants to pursue a career in writing. He loves Ireland and believes the island offers something for everyone. He has immersed himself into the country by playing Irish sports, taking part in the culture and learning the Irish language.