Sunday, 7 July 2019

Irish Racecourses: Limerick

Limerick racecourse, Ireland
Limerick Racecourse, a.k.a. Greenmount Park, is situated in Co. Limerick, in the Mid-West Region of Ireland, approximately five miles southwest of the county town, Limerick. The course was opened in 2001, as a replacement for the historic Greenpark Racecourse, nearer the city centre, which closed in 1999 after 130 years. 

Indeed, Limerick has the distinction of being the newest turf racecourse in the country and, nowadays, stages 18 Flat and National Hunt fixtures throughout the year. Twilight meetings staged, under both codes, at Limerick Racecourse in May, June, July and August are extremely popular, but the annual highlight is the four-day Christmas Festival, which starts on St. Stephen’s Day, or Boxing Day, and includes the Grade Two Greenmount Park Novice Chase. Other notable National Hunt races run at Limerick include the Munster National Handicap Chase, in October, Limerick E.B.F Mares’ Novice Hurdle and Dawn Run Mares Novices’ Chase, in March and the Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle, in April. On the Flat, the Listed Martin Molony Stakes, worth €26,550 to the winner, is the most valuable race of the season. Interestingly, the 2018 winner, Sir Erec, is currently favourite for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. 

The steeplechase course at Limerick is a right-handed oval, approximately one mile and three furlongs in circumference, with seven fairly stiff fences to a circuit and a run-in of approximately one furlong. The course is essentially galloping in character, but heading away from the stands runners must negotiate a fairly sharp turn into the back straight, which climbs steeply and features five fences, including two open ditches, in quick succession, before running downhill into the home turn. The home straight is three-furlongs long and slightly uphill for the last two furlongs, so jockeys must be wary of asking horses for an effort too soon on the downhill stretch. That caveat aside, the finish is, essentially, fairly easy, so horses granted an uncontested lead can be difficult to catch. 

On the Flat, front-runners are similarly favoured when the going is on the fast side, making it difficult to make up ground from off the pace. However, softer going places more emphasis on stamina and the early leaders regularly come back to the rest of the field.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Irish Racecourses: Curragh

The Curragh Racecourse
The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland. A flat open plain of almost 2,000 hectares. It's actually between Newbridge and Kildare. 

The Curragh is synonymous with Irish horse breeding and training. 

The Curragh Racecourse - known as The Curragh - is the most important in Ireland. In fact the meaning of the name means ''place of running horses''. 

The first recorded fixture took place in 1727. However, racing was held on the plains long before. This course is recognised for a number of Flat races including: 

  • Irish 1000 Guineas    
  • Irish 2000 Guineas
  • Irish Derby 
  • Irish Oaks 
  • Irish St Leger 

All Group 1 race of the highest caliber. Over 40 notable races are held at this course. I very much doubt any racecourse in the world has a higher number. 

Flat racing:

The Curragh is a horseshoe-shaped course win a circuit of 2 miles and a steep uphill run in of 3 furlongs. The sprint distances over 5 -6f 
is straight. Low draw is favoured in sprints, while high numbers on round course.    

Contact details:

Curragh Racecourse 
Women watching at The CurraghCounty Kildare

Tel: 353 45 441 205
Fax: 353 45 441 442

Travel information: 

The Curragh racecourse is about 30 miles from Dublin (Dublin-Cork-Limerick road). It's 9 miles from Naas and just 2 miles from neighbouring Newbridge. 

Over 30 pick up locations by coach £25 pp (racecourse admission an return coach) 

You can buy a combined racecourse and rail ticket at Dublin station (Heuston Station) for all weekend meeting. 

The nearest airport is Casement some 20 miles away. 

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Irish Racecourses: Punchestown

Irish Racecourses: Punchestown
Punchestown Racecourse is situated on the outskirts of Naas, the county town of Co. Kildare, in the eastern part of the Irish Midlands. Punchestown Racecourse is, in fact, less than three-and-a-half miles from Naas Racecourse but, unlike its near neighbour, exclusively stages National Hunt racing. Punchestown hosts 17 National Hunt fixtures between April and December, with notable races including the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle, the highlight of the two-day Winter Festival, in November, and the Grade One John Durkan Memorial Chase, in December. 

 However, Punchestown is synonymous with the Irish National Hunt Festival, commonly known as the Punchestown Festival, which is staged over five days in late April and early May and brings the Irish National Hunt season to a close. The Punchestown Festival is one of the highlights of the Irish sporting calendar and features no fewer than 12 Grade One contests, including the Champion Chase, Champion Stayers’ Hurdle, Punchestown Gold Cup and Punchestown Champion Hurdle, not to mention the fascinating La Touche Cup, run over 4 miles 1½ furlongs on the only cross-country ‘banks’ course in Ireland. 

The main steeplechase course at Punchestown is a right-handed, undulating oval, approximately two miles in circumference, with eleven, moderately stiff, but fair, fences to a circuit and a run-in of approximately one furlong. The course is galloping in character, with a steady climb throughout the final five furlongs, which affords staying types an opportunity to find their stride. 

The hurdle course, laid out inside the main steeplechase course, is only a mile-and-three-quarters in circumference and, consequently, much sharper in character. The bend at the end of the back straight is particularly sharp and, on the whole, the course favours horses that race handily. 

The cross-country course consists of a twisting, turning circuit, three miles around, with left-handed and right-handed bends. Horses must negotiate a series of idiosyncratic obstacles, including banks, fences and walls, before returning to the racecourse proper and a single, regulation birch fence between them and the winning post.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Irish Racecourses: Ballinrobe

Ballinrobe Racecourse, Ireland
Ballinrobe is the only racecourse in the town of County Mayo. The oldest town in Mayo dating back to 1390. Known as town of the river Robe. 

In 2006, the Census detailed a population of 3,682. 

A thriving market town, a gateway to both Galway and Castlebar. Ballinrobe lies 48 km north of Galway. EU Membership saw 25% of the population coming from overseas. 

A bustling livestock market - only one of two marts - in the County of Mayo takes place every Wednesday. While the Ballinrobe Agricultural Society holds an annual show at the end of August or early September. 

Ballinrobe has a long tradition of horse racing. With race meetings going back as far as 1774. The current race track at Keel Bridge has been there since 1921. It is located one mile from Ballinrobe town centre on the main Castlebar road. Just 24 miles from Carnmore Airport. 

Ballinrobe is a dual-purpose course for Flat and National Hunt racing. The course is elevated with an exceptional view of the whole track. The facilities where updated in 1998. 

The racecourse was awarded best racecourse in Ireland 2012 by Horse Racing Ireland. 

The Flat Course:

A right handed oval course of nine furlongs with a run in of just two and half furlongs. Over 5 and 6f high draws have an advantage. 

National Hunt Course

A right handed oval course of nine furlongs and run in of two and a half furlongs. There are four hurdles and six fences on the circuit. 

Ballinrobe Racecourse 
Keel Bridge
County Mayo
Tel: 35392 41811
Fax: 35392 41869



Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Irish Racecourse: Wexford

Wexford Racecourse is situated in Bettyville, on the outskirts of Wexford, the county town of County Wexford, in the ‘Sunny South East’ of Ireland. Wexford Racecourse was originally right-handed but, in April 2015, was switched to left-handed, creating an uphill finish and a more exciting spectacle for National Hunt racing, with the final two obstacles positioned in front of the grandstand. However, despite remedial work, the major change proved less successful for Flat racing and, with field sizes limited to just ten runners, Wexford became a National Hunt-only venue in May 2016. 

Nowadays, Wexford retains its previous allocation of eleven National Hunt fixtures, including four Friday evening fixtures, between March and October. Currently, Wexford stages no Listed or Graded contests, but that may well change over time as the racecourse executive seeks to increase the quantity and quality of its National Hunt programme. 

The steeplechase course at Wexford is a right-handed, undulating rectangle, approximately a mile and a quarter around, with six, moderately stiff fences – just one of which is in the home straight – and a run-in of less than a furlong. The two-furlong home straight climbs steadily to the winning post and beyond but, even so, Wexford is sharp in character, with tight turns, such that it is not really a course for long-striding, galloping types. The hurdles course, which again features six hurdles to a circuit, is laid out inside the steeplechase course and, as such, is sharper again. The undulating nature of the course often leads to uneven drainage and hence patchy, less-than-uniform going conditions.

Enjoying Wexford Racecourse - Ladies Day

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Irish Racecourses: Sligo

Irish Racecourses: Sligo
Sligo Racecourse is situated less than mile-and-a-half from the centre of Sligo, the county town of County Sligo, in the Border Region of Ireland. The racecourse, in its current guise, was built at Cleveragh, or Cleveragh Demesne, on land purchased by Sligo Borough Council from the Wood-Martin Family in the Forties – originally for use as a public park – and staged its first fixture in August 1955. 

Nowadays, Sligo plays host to eight Flat and National Hunt fixtures each year, between May and October, with a two-day meeting staged on consecutive weekdays in August –which includes the Guinness Sligo Handicap Hurdle, worth €11,500 to the winner –typically proving most popular. The second day of that fixture features evening racing, as do three more fixtures in May, June and August, making Sligo Racecourse an appealing venue for local people, holidaymakers and visiting dignitaries, or so it would seem. In 2015, the Prince of Wales and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, spent an evening at Sligo Racecourse during their four-day official visit to Ireland. 

The steeplechase course at Sligo is a right-handed, narrow, undulating oval, a little over a mile in circumference, with five, moderately stiff fences to a circuit and a two-furlong, uphill run-in. The course lies in a natural amphitheatre which, combined with the soil composition, can produce extraordinarily testing, holding ground, in which it is difficult to come from off the pace. The course is on the turn most of the way, too, and its idiosyncratic nature often produces course specialists, with enough tactical pace to race prominently, but enough stamina to cope with the uphill finish. The flat course similarly favours horses that race prominently, but beware races in which several horses like to race on, or close to, the pace; they may ‘cut each other’s throats’ in the early stages and set the race up for something coming from behind. On any of the courses at Sligo, the previous form is a major positive.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Irish Racecourse: Roscommon

Irish Racecourse: Roscommon
Roscommon Racecourse is situated in Roscommon, the county town of County Roscommon, in the Western Region of Ireland. Roscommon stages nine Flat and National Hunt meetings between May and September, but all but the final meeting of the year are held in the evening. Indeed, that final, afternoon fixture features the most notable National Hunt race in the Roscommon calendar, the Grade Three Kilbegnet Novice Chase, run over an extended two miles. 

On the Flat, the Listed Lenebane Stakes, run over an extended 1 mile 3 furlongs in July, is the most prestigious race of the year at Roscommon, worth just over €45,000 in added prize money. In recent years, the Lenebane Stakes has been won by the likes of Quest For Peace, who went on to win the Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot and the Glorious Stakes at Goodwood, before being campaigned in Australia, and Panama Hat, who was subsequently just touched off in the Grade Three American St. Leger Stakes at Arlington Park, Chicago. 

The steeplechase course at Roscommon is a right-handed rectangle, approximately a mile and a quarter around, with five, easy fences to a circuit and a run-in of two hundred yards or so. The three-furlong home straight rises steadily throughout, but the course is otherwise fairly flat. The turns, especially the turn out of the back straight, are sharp and, on the whole, the course favours horses with sufficient pace to race prominently. That said, Roscommon is considered a fair test for most, if not all, types of horse, with no particular bias one way or the other. Similar comments apply to the flat course, where tactical speed can be advantageous, but there is little or no draw bias, even over shorter distances.