Friday, 25 November 2022

Irish Racecourses: Clonmel

Clonmel is the largest town in County Tipperary, Ireland. 

It name means ''honey meadow or honey vale'' most likely related to the richness of the soil in this fertile location. This town in the province of Munster has a rich history noted for its resistance against the Cromwellian army (1649 - 53). Oliver Cromwell led the forces of the English Parliament. 

The town lies on the northern bank of the River Suir, flowing from Tipperary to Waterford. It's source coming from Devil's Bit Mountain situated in the Comeragh Mountains.  

The Census of Clonmel in 2016 detailed a population of 17,140.     

St Mary's Church remains one of the architectural features of the town, built in the 14th century.  

The annual Clonmel Junction Festival (from the first weekend of July, lasting nine days) is very popular. It features several international acts.

Powerstown Park is the horse racing venue for Clonmel Racecourse, two miles from the town centre. Public transport via train is available to Clonmel station.

The nearest airport in under thirty miles away at Waterford. 

It hosts both Flat and National Hunt racing. Horse racing dates back to 1913. The course often has over 120 horses running at each meeting. 

It was refurbished in 1998. 

Flat Racing:

Clonmel is a right handed oval of 1 and a 1/4 miles with a run in of 2 and a 1/2 furlongs, with an uphill finish. 

National Hunt Racing:

Clonmel is a right handed oval of 1 and a 1/4 miles with a run in of 2 and a 1/2 furlongs, with an uphill finish. There are six hurdles and seven jumps on this circuit. 

Contact details: 

Clonmel Racecourse 
Davis Road 
County Tipperary

Tel: 353 52 72481
Fax: 353 52 26446



Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Irish Racecourses: Tramore

Tramore Racecourse, a.k.a. Waterford & Tramore Racecourse is situated on the northern outskirts of the seaside town of Tramore, in Co. Waterford, in southeast Ireland, less than a mile from the town centre. Tramore Racecourse plays host to eleven days racing, under both codes, between January and October, but is best known for its four-day August Festival, which includes three National Hunt fixtures, usually on a Thursday evening, Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, and a Flat fixture on the intervening Saturday afternoon. 

Aside from the August Festival, the most notable fixture at Tramore is that staged on New Year’s Day, which features the Listed Savills Chase, worth €30,000 in added prize money. In a particularly classy renewal in 2019, Willie Mullins saddled a 1-2-3, headed by Al Boum Photo, in the Savills Chase. 

The steeplechase course at Tramore is a right-handed, undulating oval, approximately seven furlongs in circumference, with five, easy fences to a circuit and a run-in of less than a furlong. Heading away from the stands, the course climbs, but falls again for a long, downhill run to the second-last fence, followed by a short, uphill finish. The turns are sharp, favouring horses that race prominently, and the idiosyncratic nature of the course often gives rise to course specialists. 

Similar comments apply to the flat course, although the absence of starting stalls can an additional complication for the horse – and jockeys, for that matter – with little or no experience of flag starts. On the whole, well-balanced horses with plenty of tactical pace far best at Tramore, although when the going is on the soft side, it is possible for hold-up horses to come from on the pace. Nevertheless, the tightness of the course simply does not suit some horses at all, and even those who do act on the course must be intelligently ridden if they are to prevail.

Friday, 12 August 2022

Irish Racecourses: Cork

In the province of Munster, Cork is the largest southernmost county of Ireland. It is Ireland's second largest county with a population of over 500,000 people. 

Cork boarders four counties: Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary & Waterford. It contains the Golden Vale pastureland with West Cork one of the major tourist destinations, especially its rugged coastline and megalithic monuments. The county has mountain ranges, the highest point being Knockboy (706m) on the Shehy Mountains which border Kerry and accessed from Priest's Leap.      

Cork has an impressive coastline with beaches and sea cliffs and peninsulas including Beara, Sheep's Head, Mizen Head and Brow Head. The latter being the most southerly point of mainland Ireland. There are many islands off Cork coast including Fastness Rock which lies in the Atlantic Ocean about seven miles from the mainland.

Cork Racecourse Mallow - because it is held at Mallow, County Cork) stages both Flat and National Hunt racing fixtures. 

It is located just over 20 miles north of Cork and about 40 miles from Limerick. 

The first steeplechase - between to churches steeples, from Buttervant to Donerail - took place in 1752, down the road from Mallow. Cork Park was lost in 1917 but in 1924 racing at Cork commenced under the control of Lieutenant Colonel F F MacCabe. 

Following a £7 million refurbishment, the racecourse re-opened in 1997.

The three-day Easter Festival is the highlight of Cork Racecourses' sporting calendar.

Contact details:

Cork Racecourse (Mallow) Ltd

Tel: 353 22 50210/50207

Fax: 353 22 50213 

The racecourse is located 1 mile from Mallow town. Mallow is accessible by bus or train from Dublin. Stop at Cork for Mallow. Best get a taxi from Mallow Station to the racecourse. 

The nearest airport is Cork, which is 4 miles away from the course.  

Flat racing:

Cork is a right-handed level track with an inner course of 10 furlongs. The outer circuit is 12 furlongs. There is a draw advantage on sprints for high number. However, over 7f it pays to be dawn low. There is no real advantage over one mile although stall one seems to do well.  

National Hunt racing:  

Cork is a right-handed level track with an inner course of 10 furlongs. The outer circuit is 12 furlongs. There are eight jumps per circuit with three in the home straight. 




Thursday, 14 July 2022

Irish Racecourses: Galway

Galway Racecourse, also known as Ballybrit Racecourse, is situated in the village of Ballybrit in Co. Galway, in the West of Ireland, less than four miles northeast of Galway city centre. The racecourse stages just three meetings or, in other words, just twelve days racing, each year, but is synonymous with the Galway Races Summer Festival, one of the most celebrated race meetings in the world. 

Staged over seven days in late July and early August, such that it coincides with the August Bank Holiday in Ireland, the Summer Festival features an eclectic mixture of moderate, but dog-eat-dog, Flat and National Hunt racing. That said, the two feature races of the week, the Galway Hurdle and the Galway Plate, are worth €300,000 and €250,000 in prize money, respectively, so they typically attract numerically strong, top-class fields, with capable contenders from both sides of the Irish Sea. Aside from the Summer Festival, Galway Racecourse also stages a three-day meeting in September and a two-day meeting in October, which coincides with the October Bank Holiday. 

The steeplechase course at Galway is a right-handed, undulating diamond, just over a mile and a quarter in length, with seven, moderately stiff fences to a circuit and a two-furlong, uphill run-in. The hurdle course, which is situated inside the steeplechase course, is sharper in character, with six hurdles to a circuit and a shorter run-in, of just over a furlong. 

Heading away from the stands, the course rises to its highest point before falling sharply towards the home turn, but the final climb to the winning post is probably the stiffest in the whole country. Jockeys, naturally, allow their horses to ‘freewheel’ down the hill but, on the steeplechase course, the last two fences come in quick succession and the second-last, in particular, often catches out horses carrying too much momentum. Galway is a deceptively difficult course to jump around, and to ride, so it is no surprise that course specialists – horses and jockeys – emerge. 

Similar comments apply on the level; Galway is on the turn almost throughout and, despite the stiff finish, unless the going is heavy, tends to favour horses that are ridden prominently. Consequently, races are typically run at an end-to-end gallop, so Galway is no place for horses with stamina concerns. A low draw, next to the far side rail, may prove advantageous over seven furlongs or a mile. However, in large fields, which are commonplace, hold-up horses may have difficulty threading their way through weakening horses, from off the pace, on what is a tight enough course in any case. As over hurdles and fences, course specialists abound.

Loving The Atmosphere at Galway Races

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Irish Racecourse: Kilbeggan

Kilbeggan Racecourse – billed as “The Heart of Ireland, the Soul of Racing” – is situated in the town of the same name in Co. Westmeath, in the Midlands Region of central Ireland, approximately 13 miles from the county town, Mullingar. Utilised only during the summer months and mainly in the evening, Kilbeggan stages eight National Hunt fixtures a year, between April and September. 

The undisputed highlight of the Kilbeggan calendar is the Midlands National Handicap Chase, staged in July each year and worth €50,000 in added prize money. Run over 3 miles 1 furlong, the Midlands National is not only a recognised trial for the Galway Plate, but forms the centrepiece of what has become the most successful summer race meeting in Ireland, aside from the Irish Derby Meeting at the Curragh and, of course, the Galway Festival. 

 The steeplechase course at Kilbeggan is a right-handed, undulating circle, about one mile and a furlong in circumference, with six fences to a circuit and a short, 300-yard run-in. The run-in is uphill, but the turns – especially the turn into the home straight after the second-last fence – are sharp, to the disadvantage of big, long-striding types or dour, one-paced, staying types. The hurdle course, which is laid out, concentrically, inside the steeplechase course, features just five hurdles a circuit and is sharper still. 

Horses that tend to do well at Kilbeggan are agile, nippy and well-balanced types, who like to race on, or close to, the pace; unless the early pace is frenetic, horses that are held up may have little or no chance to make up the required ground. Especially on the very tight hurdle track, runners are constantly on the turn which, together with the undulations, may suit certain temperamental types, who would otherwise lose interest.

In common with other idiosyncratic racecourses, Kilbeggan has more than its fair share of course specialists. Recent examples of Kilbeggan course specialists include Supreme Vinnie, trained by Denise Marie O’Shea, who has recorded two of his three wins over hurdles at Kilbeggan, Net D’Ecosse, formerly trained by Noel Meade, who has won once and finished second and third – third in the Midlands National – from three visits to the course and Conrad Hastings, trained by Henry De Bromhead, who has won two of his three starts over fences at Kilbeggan and finished third on the other.

Having Fun at Kilbeggan Racing  

Friday, 20 May 2022

Irish Racecourses: Laytown

Laytown Racecourse is the ‘Brigadoon’ of Irish horse racing insofar as it makes a brief, fleeting appearance, just once a year, before being promptly dismantled. Laytown is situated in Co. Meath, in eastern Ireland, approximately 26 miles north of Dublin, overlooking the Irish Sea. For most of the year, Laytown is a modest seaside resort, but every September, just for a few hours, a stretch of sand on the beach, known as Laytown Strand, becomes one of the most novel horse racing venues to be found anywhere in the world. 

Aside from a toilet block, Laytown has no permanent facilities, but a three-acre field, known as the ‘Race Field’, above the beach is transformed into a ‘pop-up’ racing enclosure, complete with parade ring, weighing room and bookmakers’ pitches. A temporary ‘grandstand’ is created by cutting steps into a sand dune and, at low tide, the historic Laytown Strand Races are staged on the long, uninterrupted sandy beach below.

Nowadays, Laytown Strand Races consists of six races, each restricted to a maximum of ten runners, to be ridden by experienced jockeys, on a straight, level course. All the races are restricted to six or seven furlongs and no headgear is allowed. The modern ‘sanitised’ version of Laytown Strand Races was introduced in 1995 after three horses were killed and ten jockeys injured in a series of accidents in 1994, which called the future of the meeting into question. Prior to 1995, races were staged over distances between five furlongs and two miles, including around a sweeping bend at the nearby village of Bettystown. In the name of safety, unauthorised vehicles are prohibited from the beach on race day, as are bookmakers. Nevertheless, Laytown Strand Races, which dates from 1868, remains the only official race meeting – that is, under the Rules of Racing – to be staged on a beach anywhere in Europe. 

From a racing perspective, wet sand rides on the firm side so Laytown can be a boon for horses who favour fast going, which may not otherwise be easy to find in September. Starting stalls replaced the traditional flag starts in 2015, but races are still framed so that the minimum weight to be carried is 9st 7lb or, in races where riders must be qualified under Irish National Hunt Steeplechase (INHS) Rules, 10st 4lb or more. Upper Lambourn trainer Jamie Osborne makes an annual pilgrimage to Laytown and is, in fact, the leading trainer in recent years, with five winners from his 20 runners. Champion Jockey Colin Keane is the leading rider, with four winners from eleven rides.

Laytown Horse Racing 

Friday, 11 March 2022

Irish Racecourses: Downpatrick

Downpatrick is a small town about 20 miles from Belfast in County, Northern Ireland.The population is just under 20,000. Did you know that Downpatrick cathedral is said to be the burial ground of St Patrick who was known as the ''Apostle of Ireland'' and patron saint of Ireland.    

Downpatrick is one of two racecourses in Northern Ireland. The other is Down Royal.  

Its history dates back 300 from 1685. It is one mile away from this historic town. With a strong local following, this is one of the friendliest courses you can visit. 

Downpatrick is is just under 100 hundred miles from Dublin and 28 miles from Belfast. 

Nearest airport is Bishops Court just over 1 mile from the course. 

Flat racing:

This right-handed oval and undulating course over 11 furlong circuit. A short 1 furlong uphill run in. No draw advantage. 

National Hunt racing:

This right-handed oval and undulating course over 11 furlong circuit. A short 1 furlong uphill run in. There 5 hurdles and 7 fences. 
Contact details:

Downpatrick Racecourse 

71 Lismore Road 
BT30 7EY

Tel: 48 446 12054
Fax: 48 448 42227