Leopardstown Racecourse

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Among dual-purpose horse racing venues in Ireland, Leopardstown Racecourse is one of the finest, located in Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County just south of Dublin city centre about five miles (eight kilometres). The left-handed oval track measures one mile and six furlongs in circumference, featuring an uphill finishing straight. Jump racing occupies the racecourse during the winter months, while flat racing fills out the rest of the calendar, adding up to some 22 meetings per year. One of the highlights of the flat-racing season is the Irish Champion Stakes, while the Hennessy Gold Cup ranks high on the list of National Hunt competitions.

A Venue for Major Events

Modelled after England’s Sandown Park Racecourse in suburban London, Leopardstown Racecourse was built by Captain George Quin in 1888 to serve the race-going public of Ireland’s capital. Although the name of the course may conjure up images of wild spotted cats, it actually derives from a much more tame source—the nearby Town of the Lepers. The venue was privately held until 1967, when the Racing Board (now “Horse Racing Ireland”) purchased the racecourse in order to secure its future.

As a mixed use venue, Leopardstown Racecourse has attracted some of the biggest names in both National Hunt and flat racing. It is home to the Leopardstown Hall of Fame, which serves as a “who’s who” of racing greats, including jockeys Vincent O’Brien and Pat Eddery as well as some of the fastest horses ever to grace a track, such as Arkle, Dawn Run and Nijinsky, among others.

The list of big races hosted by Leopardstown Racecourse is extensive. Among flat races, the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial run each May was won by the subsequent English Derby winner for three consecutive years—a Sinndar in 2000, Galileo in 2001 and High Chapparal in 2002—while the 2003 winner Alamshar finished third in the English Derby before going on to win the Irish Derby. Each September, two Group 1 events attract huge crowds—the mile-long Matron Stakes worth €190,000 and the Irish Champion Stakes, currently sponsored by Red Mills, with its €1 million prize pool.

December is the month for standout jumps racing as epitomised by the four-day Christmas meeting with its Lexus Chase and December Festival Hurdle. The excitement continues into January, when the Boylesport Handicap Hurdle, the Arkle Novice Chase and the €120,000 BHP Irish Champion Hurdle are run. Then comes February’s , including the Deloitte Novice Hurdle, the Dr P. J. Moriarty Novice Chase and the jewel in Ireland`s steeplechasing crown—the three-mile Hennessy Gold Cup

Racing at Leopardstown Today

With an average of nearly two fixtures each month, it’s always a good time to enjoy racing action at Leopardstown. Of particular interest on the schedule are the Ladies Days in September and December, when exciting “Best Dressed” competitions are held. These events have been rated among the most glamorous social occasions of the year in all of Ireland, featuring elegant fashion shows, fine dining and gala awards ceremonies.

For most fixtures year round, the cost of open admission to the Leopardstown Racecourse is €15 per person, increasing to €20 or €25 on featured racedays. Top-level seats are priced at €30~€40, while OAPs and students enjoy concessionary pricing at €10~€15. A General Restaurant Package is available, too, for €49 per adult or €24.50 per child, including admission, a race programme, a reserved table in the restaurant, a three-course meal and top-level seating. Apart from the racing action, attendees can take advantage of numerous other facilities located on the grounds, from the golf club and clubhouse in the centre of the racetrack to several restaurants, designer boutiques and even a night club.

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