Kilbeggan Racecourse

Published: 08/10/2013

Kilbeggan Racecourse is located in the quiet midlands of County Westmeath, Ireland near the old monastery town of Kilbeggan. Its right-handed, undulating track covers one mile and one furlong and features an uphill run to the winning post. The course is dedicated wholly to National Hunt racing, with eight fixtures a year scheduled between May and September, including the €50,000 Midlands National in July and a number of popular evening meetings throughout the summer months.

Starts, Stops and Improvements

In March of 1840, a race was organised in Kilbeggan for a Challenge Cup valued at 40 guineas. An additional 10 pounds were added by the Stewards. From then until 1855, racing was held in a number of nearby locations, including the present site. After a hiatus of more than two decades, racing resumed in 1879. An official meeting was conducted at Ballard under the auspices of the Lockes, a family of local distillers, and was repeated there annually till 1885. Another lengthy break in racing followed, and in 1901 the current venue in Loughnagore saw competition resume and continue till the War years’ suspension from 1941 to 1945.

Kilbeggan Racecourse survived serious financial difficulties in the 1950s~60s when the Racing Board withdrew its assistance. In 1971, the course switched to all National Hunt racing in 1971, and two yeas later it conducted its first sponsored races. The opening of the New Complex was the highlight of 1990 along with the purchase of the racecourse lands, leading to Kilbeggan’s honour as that year’s Racecourse of the Year Award.

Even more improvements have been made in the past two decades, including surfacing of the concourse area, extension of the enclosure and development of a new site for tented village. The race track was widened to accommodate larger fields, whereupon additional race meetings could be scheduled. Since 1992, the number of race meetings has grown from three each year to six and then eight. Concurrently, attendance has doubled from 24,000 in 1995 to 50,000 nowadays.

In May 1999, a stunning new Pavilion was completed at a cost of over €1.7 million. It now forms the centrepiece of Kilbeggan’s Events and Leisure facilities, which are on par with the best in all of Ireland. Since 1997, the sponsored Elan Midlands National has been conducted, becoming the most successful one-day meeting in Ireland outside the festival races.

Racing at Kilbeggan Today

Summer evening meetings at Kilbeggan Racecourse are particularly popular with the local fans. Of special interest is the Family Fun Day in June along with Two Best Dressed Ladies Competitions, one in July and the other in August. Admission to the course is €12 per adult, and children under 16 years of age are admitted free of charge.

For food and beverage, the Pavilion bar overlooks the winning post. There’s also live music in the tented bar on the hill overlooking the racecourse, and a self-service restaurant and snack bars can also be found on the grounds. Tailor-made hospitality packages can be arranged, too, including admission to the racecourse, free parking, a complimentary colour racecard, buffet lunch, exclusive use of a Balcony Suite for the entire day, bar facilities throughout the day (up to 30 minutes after last race), private Tote betting facilities and close circuit television.

For corporate outings and large groups, the Tented Village is superbly located on a hill with a panoramic view of the entire racecourse. It is conveniently adjacent to the parade ring, main tote and bookmakers, with facilities to cater for groups of 100 to 2000 people.

Published on: 08/10/2013

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