If you are considering locations for a vacation this year, Ireland should be at the top end of your shortlist. The European country has a long and rich history with horse racing as many of the leading thoroughbreds in the world have a link back to the Emerald Isle in their breeding. Today, there are 26 racecourses across Ireland. Here is a look at the leading five tracks you can visit on your trip to Ireland.
Based in County Kildare, the Curragh is arguably Ireland’s most important racecourses on the flat as it holds all five of the Classics in the country, including the Irish Derby which was won in 2017 by Capri. Some of the best Group horses from around the world visit the course each season - therefore, the quality of racing tends to be high. The opening meeting of the year takes place in March and the course hosts race days through to September.
Fairyhouse is the home of the Irish Grand National, which takes place annually in April. The track sits in County Meath and has been hosting national hunt racing since 1848. If you are looking to visit the Irish Grand National meeting, which takes place across three days, book your tickets well in advance as it is very popular with horse racing fans in Ireland and the UK. Fairyhouse is a fantastic track to take the family for a day out as they cater for all ages, with a range of activities on offer on the day for children.
Galway Racecourse is not the biggest horse racing venue in Ireland, however. If you prefer an intimate track that is great for viewing the action, this is one to consider. It is located in the village of Ballybrit and their busiest week of the year is in August when they host the Galway Festival. You can place your bets before you visit the track with William Hill and other bookmakers who offer full betting Irish racing each day.
Leopardstown Racecourse is situated just 8km south of Dublin, therefore it is an ideal track to visit if you are on a city break. Transport to and from the course is very easy as trains and buses are available. Leopardstown is open 12 months of the year as it hosts flat and national hunt racing in a busy schedule. One of their biggest races on the calendar is the Grade One Irish Champion Stakes, which takes place every September and was won in 2017 by Decorated Knight.
Home to the Punchestown Festival, one of Ireland’s biggest weeks of the year in horse racing, this County Kildare course is the perfect place to visit to watch some top class national hunt action. Not only does the racecourse put on racing 12 months of the year, it also hosts music festivals. Some of the biggest bands in the world such as U2 and AC/DC have played there so keep an eye on their schedule for the latest music events.
Ireland is a great choice of destination for horse lovers and horse racing fans for its rich history with horses and the multitude of tracks available. Enjoy your visit!