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Feature race: The Ulster Grand National
Downpatrick is the oldest racecourse in Ireland. In 1685 racing first took place on the old course, a few miles from the current track. Only staging national hunt racing is a tight right-handed track with an uphill climb to the finish.
It can be hard to make up ground at this sharp track, so it can pay to back front runners.
Down Royal Racecourse
Feature Race: Ladbrokes Champion Chase
Located close to Belfast, Down Royal always attracts good crowds and boasts top-class facilities. Their meeting in October really kickstarts the national hunt season, with trainer Gordon Elliott often introducing many of his stable stars for their season bows. In the summer the two-day Ulster Derby meeting is the highlight.
Gordon Elliott loves the venue and has an excellent record when sending runners here.
Feature Race: Clonmel Oil Chase
Just outside of Clonmel town, the racecourse holds meetings all year round. An undulating, right-handed track with a stiff uphill run to the winning line, it hosts the Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase in November.
One of the most scenic racecourses in the country, Killarney hosts three summer festivals in the months of May, July and August. With the town a bustling tourist destination, a day at the races is always a popular choice.
Feature Race: Hilly Way Chase
Cork Racecourse hosts a series of meetings throughout the year over jumps and on the flat on the banks of the River Blackwater and close to the town of Mallow. A big galloping track it hosts both the Cork Grand National and the Hilly Way Chase.
Feature Race: Faugheen Grade 1 Novice Chase
One of Ireland's newest tracks, having opened up in 2001, it has quickly established itself as a premier venue. A right-handed oval track, it hosts both national hunt and flat fixtures, but their Christmas meeting has become the highlight. The Faugheen Grade 1 Novice Chase, named after Willie Mullins' great Champion Hurdler, is among the highlights.
In the winter months, the track can get very heavy, so horses need to appreciate a dig in the ground.
Feature Race: Kerry National Handicap Chase
The Kerry venue is one of the most historic and famous throughout the country. While they also hold a three-day meeting on the June Bank Holiday weekend, the racecourse really comes alive for the seven-day Harvest Festival in September.
Horses often run well at the Harvest Festival year after year, so course form must be given a lot of credit.
The closest track to master trainer Aidan O'Brien, Tipperary Racecourse, has often been the starting ground for some of the best thoroughbreds. It is busiest during the summer but hosts its biggest meeting of the year on the first Sunday of October.
Feature Race: Grade 2 Kinloch Brae Chase
Thurles on a Thursday is nearly a weekly occurrence during the winter months on a track that is the only privately owned in the country. Many of the top trainers in the country choose to run their horses on a right-handed, fair track.
Feature Race: Savills New Year’s Day Chase
With a view of the nearby beach, Tramore Racecourse is a picturesque venue that hosts meetings all year round. Recently, it became synonymous with Willie Mullins' gelding Al Boum Photo. The chaser won four Savills New Year’s Day Chase before going on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup on two occasions.
On the Hill of Crockafotha in Co Meath, it is an ideal setting for a racecourse and punters flock to the track in their droves during the summer months. Due to the popularity of the meetings, new fixtures have been added in recent years. While the racing is not necessarily of the highest quality, the atmosphere is always top-notch.
Keep an eye out for gambles on locally-trained runners. This was the site of legendary punter Barney Curley's most famous coup.
Feature Race: Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby
The home of national hunt racing in Ireland, the Curragh hosts all five Irish classic races in the 1,000 Guineas, the 2,000 Guineas, the Irish Derby, the Irish Oaks and the Irish St. Leger. Having undergone renovations in recent years, it now boasts some of the best facilities in the country and is the place to go to see the fastest horses in the land.
Ireland's only and first all-weather racecourse, Dundalk is now one of the most important tracks in the country. Combining a greyhouse facility, it has a regular Friday evening slot during the winter months.
Course form is often key here, as some horses thrive on the all-weather in comparison to the turf.
Feature Race: BoyleSports Irish Grand National
The home of the Irish Grand National, Fairyhouse is one of the most recognisable racecourses in Ireland with a long history. Situated in Ratoath, Meath, Fairyhouse is a right-handed circuit that has a slight uphill finish and some stiff fences to negotiate on the chase track. Famous horses to win the Irish Grand National include Desert Orchid and three-time winner Brown Lad, with tens of thousands attending the meeting each year.
Gowran Park Racecourse
Feature Race: Thyestes Handicap Chase
The Kilkenny racecourse is in the midst of some of the country's biggest breeding and training operations. Hosting meetings over both codes throughout the year is a right-handed track that hosted its first race day in 1914. Undoubtedly, the course's biggest race is the Thyestes Handicap Chase, known as the 'race that stops a county'.
Willie Mullins is local to the track and doesn't often miss when sending runners.
Feature Race: AXA Farm Insurance Midlands National Handicap Chase
One of five exclusively national hunt venues, Kilbeggan is a tight, undulating track that hosts a series of meetings during the summer months. Close to the town of Kilbeggan in Westmeath, it guarantees a great day out at the races.
One of the most unique racecourses in Europe, Laytown Strand races sees horses running along the beach. A one-day event in September, it attracts visitors from all over the world for the novel experience. Both flat and jump jockeys ride at the meeting.
Look out for local trainers who will have schooled their horses on the beach.
Feature Race: Group 1 QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes
Easily accessible from Dublin, Leopardstown is one of Ireland's premier racecourses with top-class facilities. Hosting top-class races over jumps and on the flat is one of the most-respected tracks in the country. Its yearly highlights include the opening day of the Irish Champions Weekend, the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle and the Unibet Irish Gold Cup.
The ground can be unseasonably fast during the winter months, which doesn't always suit big, galloping types.
Feature Race: Grade 1 Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle
A favourite for many trainers, Naas Racecourse hosts top-class action on the flat and over jumps. A left-handed track with an uphill finish, it now has a Grade 1 in its schedule in the shape of the Grade 1 Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle, which has proven a great trial for the Cheltenham Festival in recent years.
Feature Race: Ladbrokes Troytown Handicap Chase
With local trainers including Gordon Elliott, Noel Meade and Gavin Cromwell, Navan is the ideal location for a top-class venue. Boasting a stiff uphill finish reminiscent of Cheltenham, many brilliant horses have run there over the years, including the great two-mile chaser Moscow Flyer, who was a regular visitor.
The uphill finish should not be underestimated, so be wary of backing horses with stamina concerns
Racing from March to November, Wexford Racecourse is best known for its popular Friday evening meetings during the summer months. In May 2016, Wexford became a National Hunt-only racecourse a year after switching from being a right-handed to a left-handed course
Feature Race: Punchestown Gold Cup
The home of national hunt racing in Ireland, the Punchestown brings the curtain down on the season with a five-day meeting that brings together the country's best hurdlers and chasers. Previous to the Festival, the County Kildare courses hosts for the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle in November and the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase, but the Festival is a bonanza of jump racing action, with 12 Grades 1 up for grabs.
Cheltenham form doesn't always translate at Punchestown, where horses race the other way around.
Feature Race: Guinness Galway Plate
Just outside the city of Galway, Ballybrit is the home of the Galway Races, one of Ireland's biggest social events of the year. Featuring the Galway Plate and the Galway Hurdle, the seven-day Galway Festival attracts tens of thousands of punters each day for the racing action and a host of activities. Check out our betting guide, ticket information and more for the Galway Races.
For sprint races, there can be significant draw biases on the day. The start of the races are often crucial.
A hugely popular and well-attended venue in the west of Ireland. Mostly a summer track, it hosts both Flat and National Hunt meetings between the months of May and September.
Hosting racing for over 230 years, Ballinrobe is an idyllic racecourse that hosts a number of well-attended summer meetings. The racecourse is host to both competitive Flat and National Hunt meetings.
Very close to Sligo town, the racecourse gets plenty of visitors during the summer months, when it primarily hosts evening fixtures. The course is a right-handed track on a one-mile circuit.
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