Dundalk Stadium Racecourse

Published: 08/10/2013

Located north of the town of Dundalk in County Louth, Dundalk Stadium is a horse and greyhound racing venue covering approximately 159 acres, which features Ireland’s first and only floodlit all-weather track. Used exclusively for flat racing, the left-handed Polytrack surface forms an oval covering a distance of 1¼ mile (ten furlongs) with a five-furlong sprint track. No fewer than 36 fixtures are scheduled here annually, the great majority of them taking place in the evening. The most prestigious event conducted throughout the year is the Group 3 Diamond Stakes in October, which is currently part of the Breeders Cup Challenge.

Setting a New Standard

A tradition of racing has existed at Dundalk for over a century. The earliest recorded horse racing took place in 1889. The turn of the century brought about growth and transformation, including the introduction of greyhound racing in 1930. In those days, the turf racecourse at Dundalk was mainly used for National Hunt events, with steeplechases and hurdles dominating the racing scene. By the late 1990s, however, the facilities at Dundalk Racecourse were in need of major redevelopment, which would require substantial investment.

In 1999, Dundalk Race Company PLC and Dundealgan Greyhound Racing Company Limited merged to form Dundalk Racing (1999) Ltd., and this venture became the company responsible for managing and operating Dundalk Stadium. One of the first decisions taken was the closure of the old turf course and abandonment of jumps racing in 2001. Plans were drawn up for a new facility that would feature floodlights for night racing and an all-weather track for use year-round.

The greyhound track opened first, completed at a cost of €11 million and hosting its first races in February 2004. Three years later, in August 2007, the horse track officially opened, costing a further €24 million. Today, the fully refurbished Dundalk Stadium is rated as the most modern entertainment venue in the North East.

Of particular interest, the new generation Polytrack surface is a blend of plastic fibres, PVC granules, soft rubber and high grade sand, all of which are combined with a coating wax. The going description for this particular track is described as “Standard,” as per a Jockey Club directive equating to Good to Firm or Good and having the same characteristics as turf, which allows horses to perform at their maximum ability. Races can be conducted even under the worst weather conditions.

Racing at Dundalk Today

The €35 million spent in redevelopment efforts has resulted in state-of-the-art facilities, including stabling for 130 horses and a kenneling block in addition to the all-weather track. For dining, there are three excellent options: Silk’s Bar & Carvery, the 400-seat Champion’s Restaurant, and Mullen’s Traditional Fast Food. For drinks, Gallop’s Bar and Sprinter’s Bar provide a full range of beverages. A smart casual dress code is in operation throughout the stadium.

Greyhound races are hosted every Friday and Saturday evening, and they are often combined with horse racing to create “dual fixture nights.” On such racedays, there are 7~8 live horse races, followed by 8 greyhound races. The last greyhound race is held around 10.20pm, while the last horse race takes place at approximately 9:40pm. Also, there are two hours of live music following racing every evening from about 10:30pm to 12:30am.

Of special note, October’s Diamond Stakes, which moved to Dundalk Stadium in 2008, became Ireland’s first non-turf Group race in 2009 upon promotion from Listed to Group 3 status. Among recent winners was Declaration of War trained by Aidan O`Brien and ridden by jockey Joseph O`Brien. Other Listed races at Dundalk Stadium Racecourse include the Star Appeal Stakes, the Carlingford Stakes, the Mercury Stakes and the Cooley Stakes, to name a few.

Published on: 08/10/2013

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