Killarney Racecourse

Published: 08/10/2013

Located within walking distance of a premier Irish tourist destination, the town of Killarney in picturesque County Kerry, the Killarney Racecourse has been lauded as the most scenic racecourse in Ireland and possibly in the world. The level, left-handed oval track, which is used for both National Hunt and flat facing, measures about one mile and one furlong in total circumference. It hosts 11 fixtures annually in a season that begins in May and ends in August, when other jumps courses are just opening.

A Stunning Setting for Competition

The earliest recorded race meetings in Killarney were conducted in 1822. From then until 1901, two separate courses hosted events, and then both suspended operations in 1901. It was not until 1936 that racing resumed, this time at the present Killarney Racecourse, which was opened at least in part for its breathtaking setting, offering a panoramic view of Killarney National Park, Ross Castle, The Lakes of Killarney and the McGillcuddy Reeks. There is no place quite like it for watching horses pass the finishing line, and a number of epic films have been shot in the area over the years.

During the past eight decades, Killarney Racecourse has evolved a tradition of holding three summer festivals that are packed with action, both on and off the track. The three-day May Racing Festival kicks everything off, with National Hunt cards on Sunday and Monday followed by a mixed card on Tuesday. Traditional Irish music as well as song and dance takes place throughout the enclosures, creating a one-of-a-kind experience for racegoers. Featured races include the Grade B Handicap Hurdle with a prize fund of €50,000 and the McSweeney Arms Hotel Handicap Steeplechase with a prize fund of €23,500.

The four-day July Racing Festival is counted as one of the highlights of Ireland’s social calendar. Evening meetings are conducted from Monday through Wednesday whilst Thursday is an afternoon fixture that incorporates the prestigious Queen of Fashion Ladies Day. Key races are the Christy McSweeney Memorial Novice Steeplechase with a prize fund of €15,500 and the Killarney Handicap Hurdle with a prize fund of €23,500.

The third festival of the race season at Killarney Racecourse is the four-day August Meeting, featuring 29 races and a total prize fund of nearly €400,000 on offer. Among highlights are the Vincent O’Brien Listed Ruby Stakes, the J&B O’Sullivan Builders Kingdom Gold Cup valued €50,000 and the Grade C The Ladbrokes Handicap Steeplechase over two and a half miles. There’s also an Ireland Ladies Day hosted by Littlewoods on Saturday, the last day of the festival.

Racing at Killarney Today

Now Killarney Racecourse is integral part of one of Ireland’s most popular holiday destinations, often described as the “life and soul of the party that is summertime in Killarney.” It not attracts both a loyal local crowd and holidaymakers having a day at the races. There are four public bars on the grounds along with a wide range of catering options. In particular, the Jim Culloty Bar has a large restaurant area with a hot carvery selection, and on Ladies Days in July and August the Lane Bar Champagne and Cocktail Tent serves champagne and colourful cocktails on the racecourse lawn. For dining, a sandwich bar and a coffee dock area can be found in the Maurice O’Donoghue Stand, and there’s Jockey Whip Fast Food Take Away in front of the bookies ring.

Raceday tickets cost €15~€20 per adult depending on the fixture, and children under the age of 14 are admitted free of charge. Corporate packages are available, too, which include admission to a private suite, a racecard, a 4-course meal out, and betting and drink service at the table. On non-racedays, visitors may wish to take advantage of the Ross Golf Course, too, a 9-hole parklands course that is situated in the heart of Killarney Racecourse.

Published on: 08/10/2013

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