Roscommon Racecourse

Published: 14/10/2013
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Located in County Roscommon, just about one kilometre from Roscommon town centre on the Dublin-Castlebar Road, the Roscommon Racecourse hosts both National Hunt and flat racing during a season that runs from May through September. It features a Grade 2 right-handed track that covers a distance of one mile and two furlongs with a tough finish of 3½ furlongs up a steep incline toward the winning post. Among the nine fixtures scheduled here annually, primarily evening events, the biggest jumps race is the Kilbegnet Novice Chase over two miles, which takes place in late September, while the top flat race is July’s Lenebane Stakes, a listed race run over a mile and a half.

Launching Site for New Stars

The first recorded meeting at Roscommon took place in 1837. It was organised by the British Military, who were based in the town at the time. Official racing began in 1885 and except for a 12-year period from 1936 to 1948 it has continued ever since. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, the number of meetings per year gradually increased from one to seven and, since the turn of the new millennium, two more racedays have been added for a total of nine.

Over the years, many trainers have identified Roscommon Racecourse as a proving ground for future stars. Examples include 1996 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Call, who ran his first novice chase at Roscommon, finishing third, and the 1999 Ascot Gold Cup winner Enzeli, who won a race at Roscommon the year before his famous triumph—the first Irish winner of the Cup since 1969. Likewise, Michael Grassick introduced Preseli at Roscommon, and she went on to become the top rated two-year old filly in all of Ireland in 1999.

This tradition of sending top youngsters to the track en route to bigger and better victories later on in their careers has continued into the current century. In July 2008, another superlative filly called Again made her debut in Roscommon. Trained by David Wachman, she too became Ireland’s top two-year old filly and went on in the following season to win the Irish 1000 Guineas. Roscommon Racecourse has its own feature race of the year, of course—the €40,000 Grade 3 Kilbegnet Novice Chase. It is a novice steeplechase for four-year olds and upwards that attracts its own stars of the future. In 2013, the Henry de Bromhead-trained Darwins Fox won the event in impressive fashion and should be one to watch in the years ahead. The 2012 winner, Bailey Green, put together a string of eight wins in a row, including two immediately after the Kilbegnet victory. Racing at Roscommon Today

Considerable investment has been made in the facilities at Roscommon Racecourse over the past two decades, including upgrades of the stables, entrance turnstiles, and food and beverage outlets. Today the grounds feature a spacious dining room, a self-service restaurant, a snack bar, tea room and several bars. Not surprisingly, the course won the 2004 Stable Staff Award for the “Most Improved Racecourse in Ireland.”

The most popular events at Roscommon are the two-day meetings held in June and July, conducted on Monday and Tuesday evenings. The latter includes the course’s annual Ladies Day as its opener. There’s also a Family Day scheduled in August. The cost of general admission is €13 for adults or €8 for OAPs and students. Children under the age of 14 years are granted free entry. The Roscommon Race Committee have also introduced a new Special Voucher for €30, which includes admission, a racecard, a two-course meal and a €10 bet.

Published on: 14/10/2013

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