Wexford Racecourse

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Situated in County Wexford, Ireland, just outside Wexford town off the Dublin-Rosslare bypass, the Wexford Racecourse offers both National Hunt and flat racing at eleven fixtures scheduled between March and November each year. Its dual-purpose right-handed track undulates gently over a distance of one mile and four furlongs, which makes it one of the longest circuits in Ireland. The course is not noted for attracting the big names in Irish racing, and many of the races draw a large number of runners, thus making it hard for punters to identify winners.

History

Although there are records of horseracing in the area as early as the 1870s, and the events apparently were attended by large crowds, all racing had ceased by 1902. For decades, enterprising people dreamt of opening a new racecourse at Wexford and two World Wars ensued before at long last, in October of 1951, a new track at Bettyville was opened. An estimated 17,000 race-goers turned out for the historic event, paying ten shillings (.63c) for gentlemen, five shillings for ladies (.32c) and half-a-crown (.20c) for the outside enclosure. Some 70 horses faced the starter that day, and each race offered £130 in prize money.

In the years that followed, the Wexford Racecourse Supporters’ Club was founded to provide much needed finance and a programme of ongoing improvements. In the 1980s, the track’s surface was levelled and drained, while the sharp bend into the straight was eased. Two furlongs were added on the western side and cambering on the bends added to racing safety. In 1990s, attention turned to improving facilities and in 1996 the Minister of Agriculture, Ivan Yates T.D. (a County Wexford man), opened the new stand complete with bars and Tote betting. Two years later, the Minister returned to open the Ivy Room with a bar and restaurant.

Since then, another two furlongs have been added to the track, toilet facilities have been upgraded, and stabling has been improved and increased. Currently, the course’s reservoir is being relocated in order to widen the eastern end of the track. Moreover, the irrigation system is also being updated.

One of the most memorable events to take place at Wexford Racecourse in its 60+ years was a visit in July 1992 by His Highness The Aga Khan. His filly, Sinntara, won her maiden race here before gaining victory in the Irish Cesearewitch at the Curragh in September of that year. As a mare, Sinntara would go on to foal Sinndar, the future winner of the Irish and English Derbies in 2000.

Racing at Wexford Today

Wexford Racecourse has been described as “a fun course,” owing to its large fields for competitive flat and jump racing. The stands offer excellent views of the track, and the main stand houses two lively watering holes upstairs, the Bettyville and Carriglawn bars. Also on the grounds is the Long Bar plus a cafeteria serving tea, coffee and hot snacks, as well as the Ivy Room Bar with its spacious carvery restaurant. For corporate events, the Carriglawn Room in the upper stand features a self-contained bar that can accommodate up to 100 people for entertainment and buffets.

On racedays, the cost of general admission is €15 for adults, €8 for OAPs and students, and free for accompanied children under 14 years of age. One of the most anticipated events on the annual calendar is Ladies Day sponsored by ladbrokes, which is pat of the two-day July Meeting. It features champagne receptions and a Best Dressed Lady competition in addition to a full card of races.

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