Horse racing in Ireland
Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is the governing body of horse racing on the island of Ireland. The HRI mission statement is "to develop and promote Ireland as a world centre of excellence for horse racing and breeding". Like most other sports, horse racing is run on an All Ireland basis, so Horse Racing Ireland is responsible for racing in both the Republic of Ireland, which has 24 racecourses, and in Northern Ireland, which has 2 racecourses. The remit of the British Horseracing Authority does not extend to Northern Ireland. HRI was founded in 2001, succeeding the Irish Horseracing Authority, the 1994 successor to the Racing Board founded in 1945.
Image: Horse racing in Ireland
Ireland has a rich history of horse racing; point to pointing originated there and even today, jump racing is more popular than racing on the flat. As a result, every year Irish horse racing fans travel in huge numbers to the highlight event of the National Hunt calendar, the Cheltenham Festival, and in recent years Irish owned or bred horses have dominated the event. Ireland has a thriving Thoroughbred breeding industry, stimulated by favourable tax treatment. The world's largest Thoroughbred stud, Coolmore Stud, has its main farm there (in addition to major operations in the U.S. and Australia).
In recent years, Irish bred and trained horses have enjoyed considerable success in major races worldwide. Various horses achieved victory in one or more of the British 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, considered the three most prestigious races in Europe. In the 6 runnings of the Epsom Derby between 2008 and 2013, Irish horses filled 20 of the first 30 placings, winning the race 5 times.
The Galway Races
The Galway Races is an Irish horse-racing festival that starts on the last Monday of July every year. Traditionally the busiest days of the races are the Thursday, when the Galway Hurdle and ladies day take place. It is famous throughout the world for being one of the world's biggest race meetings. It is estimated that over the week-long festival, 150,000 people attend the event.
Horse racing courses
Ballinrobe Racecourse - a horse racing venue in Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland. It is the only race course in Co. Mayo. It hosts both flat and national hunt events.
Ballybrit Racecourse - (also known as Galway Racecourse) is a horse race course in County Galway, Ireland. It is located in the village of Ballybrit. The track has two stands, the Main stand, and the Millenium stand. The 7-day Galway Races Festival is held here every August.
Bellewstown - The tradition of summer horse racing at Bellewstown dates back centuries. The first record of racing here appears in the August edition of the Dublin Gazette and the Weekly Courier in 1726. There was originally a cricket ground in the middle of the race track. Racing continues to occur on an annual basis, taking place during the course of the summer. There are currently two meetings a year, comprising three days in July and two days in August. The track is a one mile and one furlong left-handed course, featuring both flat and hurdle racing.
Clonmel Racecourse - a horse racing venue in the town of Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland which stages both National Hunt and Flat racing. It is a right handed track of one and a quarter miles with a stiff uphill finish.
Cork Racecourse - a horse racing venue at Mallow, County Cork, Ireland which stages both National Hunt racing and Flat racing. The course is right handed, one and a half miles round and has a straight sprint course of five furlongs.
Curragh Racecourse - usually referred to as simply The Curragh, is Ireland's most important Thoroughbred racecourse. It is situated on the Curragh plain in County Kildare, between the towns of Newbridge and Kildare. The course is right-handed, about two miles long and horseshoe-shaped. Races up to one mile are run on a straight course. Additionally there are several training facilities on the site. The Curragh offers the highest purses and highest quality level of flat racing in Ireland.
Dundalk Stadium - a horse and greyhound racing venue in Ireland. It is located to the north of Dundalk in County Louth. The course is a floodlit 1¼ mile left-handed oval, and races are run on an all-weather Polytrack surface.
Fairyhouse Racecourse - one of Ireland's premier horse racing venues. It hosted its first race in 1848 and since 1870 has been the home of the Irish Grand National steeplechase. The racetrack itself is a one-mile and 6.5 furlong right-handed circuit, with a 2.5 furlong straight and a slight uphill finish.
Gowran Park Racecourse - a horse race course in County Kilkenny, Ireland. Gowran Park hosts 16 race days throughout the year with both National Hunt and Flat meetings. The racing season at Gowran Park has quality fixtures spread evenly throughout the year starting with the Thyestes Handicap Chase in January.
Kilbeggan Racecourse - a horse racing venue in Kilbeggan, County Westmeath, Ireland. The first recording of racing in the Kilbeggan area was in March 1840. The course is a right-handed, undulating course of one mile and one furlong with an uphill run to the finish.
Killarney Racecourse - a horse racing venue in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland which stages both National Hunt and Flat racing. Racing at Killarney has been taking place since 1822. The course is a left-handed oval, one mile and two furlongs in circumference.
Laytown Racecourse - a horse racing venue on the beach at Laytown, County Meath, Ireland. Laytown is unique in the Irish racing calendar as it is the only race event run on a beach under the Rules of Racing. The first recorded race meeting in Laytown was in 1868. The races take place on the strand for one day every September. The stand course is a straight near-level course over six and seven furlong distances.[
Leopardstown Racecourse - an Irish horse-racing venue, located in Leopardstown. Like the majority of Irish courses, it hosts both National Hunt and Flat racing. The course, built by Captain George Quin and modelled on Sandown Park Racecourse in England, was completed in 1888 and acquired by the Horse Racing Board of Ireland in 1967. Many important races are held here and racing takes place all year round, with about 22 meetings per year.
Limerick Racecourse - a horse racing venue in Limerick, Ireland, which stages both National Hunt and flat racing. The course opened in October 2001 and is the first purpose-built racecourse in Ireland in 50 years. The course is a right-handed oval track of about 11 furlongs (7,260 ft; 2,210 m).
Listowel Racecourse - a horse racing venue in the town of Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland which stages both National Hunt and Flat racing. The course is flat and run left handed over an inner rectangular shaped circuit measuring just over a mile, and a triangular outer circuit of a mile and a furlong. There is a chute for the 7 furlong and 1 mile races. The current racecourse which is close to the town centre first opened in 1858 and celebrated its 150th Anniversary in 2008.
Naas Racecourse - a horse racing venue in Naas, County Kildare, Ireland, approximately 18 miles from Dublin. The course stages both Flat racing and National Hunt racing. The course is left-handed with an uphill finish and a long run-in. Naas stages several Grade Two National Hunt races, including the Slaney Novice Hurdle, Nas Na Riogh Novice Chase and the Johnstown Novice Hurdle, and one Group Three flat race, the Blue Wind Stakes.
Navan Racecourse - a horse racing venue at Proudstown near Navan, County Meath. The course is one and a half miles round with a home straight of three-and-a-half furlongs, left-handed with wide sweeping bends and an uphill finish from two furlongs out. There is a straight sprint course of six furlongs.
Punchestown Racecourse - located in the parish of Eadestown near Naas, County Kildare, in Ireland. It is known as the home of Irish Jumps Racing and plays host to the annual Punchestown Irish National Hunt Festival. The racecourse itself is right handed with an undulating hurdle and steeplechase track. The hurdle course is one mile six furlongs in distance while the chase course is 2 miles. Punchestown Racecourse also has the only cross country banks course in Ireland.
Roscommon Racecourse - a horse racing venue located in Roscommon, County Roscommon. The course holds both flat and jump racing. Racing unofficially commenced in 1837, with the first official contests occurring in 1885. Apart from a 12-year hiatus between 1936 and 1948 racing has continued ever since. The feature race of the year at Roscommon is the €40,000 2 mile Grade 3 Kilbegnet Novice Chase, run at the end of September. The course's most prestigious flat race is the Lenebane Stakes. There are seven meetings per year, all between May and September, and are run on either a Monday or a Tuesday. The course is right-handed of about 1 mile 2 furlongs in length with an incline on approach to the winning post.
Sligo Racecourse - a horse racing venue in Sligo, Ireland which stages both National Hunt and Flat racing. The course is a right- handed track on a one-mile circuit. Racing has taken place at the course since 1955 although racing has taken place locally since 1781. The racecourse is located in Cleveragh about 0.75 mile (1 km) from the town and there are around eight race days per year at the course.
Thurles Racecourse - a horse racing venue in the town of Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland which stages National Hunt racing. Racing has taken place at Thurles since 1732 when a three-day festival took place at the venue. The course is located 1.5km west of the town centre. The course is an oval right handed track of one and a quarter miles with 6 flights of hurdles and 7 steeplechase fences in each circuit with a steep uphill finish.
Tipperary Racecourse - a horse racing venue in County Tipperary, Ireland which stages both National Hunt and Flat racing. Tipperary Racecourse is owned by Horse Racing Ireland. The course is left-handed and flat and measures one mile and two furlongs round. There is a five furlong sprint track which joins the main racecourse at the start of the straight.
Tramore Racecourse - a horse racing venue in Tramore, County Waterford, Ireland which stages both National Hunt and Flat racing. The course is a Grade Two racecourse and is noted for its right-handed track on a 1-mile circuit. Racing in Tramore originally took place on the beach in 1785 and was held there until 1911. Racing in the existing location has taken place since 1912.
Wexford Racecourse - a horse racing venue in the town of Wexford, Ireland which stages National Hunt racing. The earliest record of racing in the area is in the 1870s. The course formerly staged Flat racing as well as National Hunt but on 1 June 2016 it was announced that with immediate effect Flat racing would be discontinued. This followed the track being switched from right-handed to left-handed in 2015. The course is an undulating left-handed course of one mile and four furlongs.