Ballinrobe Racecourse

Published: 11/08/2013

Located one mile from Ballinrobe town centre on the main Castlebar Road (N84), Ballinrobe Racecourse is the only horseracing facility in County Mayo, Ireland and one of just four in Connaught. The dual-purpose track is open year round and hosts nine race meetings annually, both flats and jumps, on a slightly elevated right-handed oval measuring one mile and one furlong with a run in of 2½ furlongs. For National Hunt events, there are four hurdles and six fences on the circuit.


Racing at Ballinrobe dates back to the mid-18th century. Records indicate meetings as far back as 1773 and a steeplechase was arranged in the vicinity in 1834. Although racing in that early era took place at an array of locations throughout County Mayo, Ballinrobe alone has survived, making this one of the oldest courses in Ireland. It has been at its current location since 1921 and offers stabling for 108 horses.

Despite featuring no Graded races, the course has hosted a considerable amount of top talent and horse racing action. Among the many great horses to have run here, Dorans Pride won his first race at Ballinrobe in 1993. Owned by Mayo resident Tom Doran and trained by Michael Hourigan, the jumper went on to win €1 million on the track in a career that included a Cheltenham Stayers Hurdle victory and two podium finishes in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Another steed of note was Traverse, owned by Irish television and radio presenter Hector O’hEochagain. With the late jockey Sean Cleary in the saddle, the thoroughbred won his first Irish race at Ballinrobe in 2003. That same year, the horse became the star of “Only Fools Buy Horses,” a six-part TV series nominated as the Best Entertainment Programme at the 2003 Irish Film and Television Awards.

In 2012, Ballinrobe Racecourse had the distinct honour of being voted by racegoers as the “Irish Racecourse of the Year.” As the Ballinrobe Race Committee has stated, “Ballinrobe races are woven into the fabric of community and sporting life in the west of Ireland.... There are few courses quite as scenic and as engaging.” Some 20,000 people attend races at Ballinrobe annually.

Racing at Ballinrobe Today

The racing schedule at Ballinrobe Racecourse includes a good mix of hurdle races, steeplechases and flat sprints. There are two separate two-day festivals in June and July and the season finale in September features the €12,500 Martinstown Opportunity Handicap. Because the track occupies an elevated position within a natural amphitheatre, it’s a wonderful setting for races, with great views not only of the runners but also of an ancient Ring Fort and the picturesque Partry Mountains over Lough Carra.

Major developments have recently taken place at Ballinrobe Racecourse and are ongoing. They include the construction of a new, modern Grandstand, enlargement of the main Enclosure, new turnstiles, a new toilet block and additional Tote betting facilities. There is also a Press Room now with broadband Internet connectivity. Elsewhere on site, the Coranna Restaurant has been expanded and offers balcony viewing. There are also two comfortable bars on the grounds, and the Carra Bar provides live music at every meeting

To provide for customers enjoyment, Coranna Packages are available, including dinner seating for up to 160 corporate guests. For €55 per head, VAT inclusive, racegoers receive admission to the races, a four-course gourmet meal, a complementary racecard, access to indoor Tote facilities and a free €5 bet courtesy of the racecourse. Normal admission rates are €15 for adults and €10 for students and OAPs. Children under 14 years of age are admitted free of charge.

Published on: 11/08/2013

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