Sligo Racecourse

Published: 14/10/2013
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Situated at Cleveragh in County Sligo, Ireland, about one kilometre from Sligo town centre just off the Pearse Road, the Sligo Racecourse stages both National Hunt and flat racing in a season that runs from May through late September or early October. Its dual-purpose, right-handed ovular track measures one mile in length, featuring a run in of two furlongs with a steady incline from halfway to the finish line. The race calendar features eight fixtures annually, including a number of evening events and a popular two-day meeting in August.

Offering Just the Right Mix

County Sligo has a tradition of horseracing that dates back to 1781, when races were first recorded at Bowmore on Rosses Point. In those days, meetings were few and far between, made difficult by ongoing political unrest. But racing activities persisted, and according to entries published in the Sligo Journal in reference to the races of 1893, contests organised in the late 19th century were major social events, as the “beauty and fashion of the County attended the races.”

For many decades beginning in 1898, the primary venue for racing was located at Hazelwood, but the advent of World War II caused the closure of facilities there in 1942. It was not until 1955 that racing activities resumed with the establishment of the current Sligo Racecourse at Cleveragh. From the beginning, its purpose-built track was intended for both jumps and flat races. To this day, a mix of the two forms can be seen at all of the Sligo fixtures.

One pattern that has developed among both trainers and racegoers in Ireland over the years is to attend the seven-day summer Galway Races Festival and then head north to enjoy a continuation of racing action at Sligo in August. This has resulted in an excellent selection of runners competing on the Cleveragh turf. Quite notably, the top novice hurdler called Brewster won a bumper at Sligo in 2002, and the powerful Jazz Princess, who ran here in 2004, went on to win a Group 3 race at the Curragh en route becoming one of the best two-year-olds in all Ireland.

Racing at Sligo Today

It has been said the journey of getting to and returning from Sligo Racecourse is part of the track’s great appeal. It occupies a site within some of the most scenic countryside in Ireland, nestled between the mountains of Benbulben and Knocknarea, which look down on the property from either side. Among its most popular fixtures are Family Day in July, Student Day in October and Ladies Day on Day Two of the August Festival.

In August of 2013, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was conducted to open the course’s brand-new entrance, pavilion and grandstand. Other facilities include a spacious bar, a self-service restaurant and a snack bar. Many of the improvements at Sligo Racecourse have come about as a result of efforts made by the County Sligo Races Supporters Club, who organise reciprocal race days with other Irish courses, such as Down Royal, Ballinrobe, Curragh and Limerick, to name a few.

On racedays at Sligo Racecourse, general admission for adults costs €15, while tickets for OAPs and students go for €10. Children aged 14 years and under are admitted free of charge. For corporate outings and hospitality, the course’s Cleveragh Room can cater for groups of 50 people. It features its own viewing area, an exit onto the reserved balcony of the grandstand, betting facilities and close circuit television.

Published on: 14/10/2013

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