Horse racing is many things; a sport, a hobby, an industry, a social habit. Racing has a long and rich history on this island especially within Irish culture and society. Domestically racing is one of Ireland’s most popular spectator sports – 350 race meetings and 2,000 races annually – and is a powerhouse for producing thoroughbred horses. In fact, Ireland has more racecourses per population than any other country with 26 major racecourses throughout Ireland.
With so many racecourses and races, there is always an opportunity to enjoy the thrills and spills of horse racing when visiting Ireland. Each racecourse has its own unique quirks and landmarks, but all are in an idyllic setting thanks to Ireland’s beautiful green landscape. Galway festival is arguable Ireland’s biggest and most famous race meeting and because of this it is a hive of non-stop activity. Naas and Down Royal offer a more relaxed ambience unlike Laytown who host a dramatic annual beach race. Punchestown, The Curragh and Fairyhouse always promise a good high quality run, while Dundalk’s first state-of-the-art all-weather track delivers a great day out no matter the weather.
Backing horses is part of the Irish psyche and for most placing a bet is a bit of fun that can sometimes be financially rewarding. Attending a horse race in Ireland is more than just placing a bet; there is always dinning, drinks and entertainment on offer. Galway comes alive when the Galway race festival kicks off with 7-days of top class racing, fashion, fun and entertainment. A typical day at this race meeting includes arriving early and getting a race card followed by a trip to the parade ring to see the horses up close, a visit the champagne tent and snacking on some of the food choices available. Women should dress to impress as there are great prizes for the winner of Ladies Day – a day dedicated to fashionistas to show their style and have fun!
Racing is a popular past time in Ireland with over 1.24m people going through the turnstiles each year of which almost 70,000 are overseas visitors during their trip to Ireland. Our top tip for any group visiting Ireland is to include a race meeting to your program – with all the fun and theatrics on the day, you definitely will have backed a winner!