Ireland is the proud home of the Blarney Stone, Leprechauns and Guinness, but can also lay claim to some of the best horse racing in the world. The Irish are staunch supporters of the sport. Nowhere is this clearer than at online bookmakers, where horseracing is the most popular betting sport by far.
Gambling on the horses goes back a long way in Ireland, and you can click here for more information about the current situation and laws. What is clear though, is that these days betting is done as much with online sportsbooks as at the bookies.
With a racing season that lasts for most of the year and includes over 350 races, Ireland is a horse racing enthusiast’s dream. We can’t give you information about every race, but here are the top horse racing events in Ireland.
Punchestown Irish National Hunt Festival
The Punchestown Festival takes place annually in April. The races start on a Tuesday, and run for five consecutive days. It’s often likened to the Cheltenham Festival in England, as both events have a similar structure.
Punchestown features ten championship races including Champion Hurdle, World Series Hurdle and Punchestown Gold Cup. The festival is the pinnacle of the Irish national hunt season and is consistently well-attended. This collaboration of spectacular racing, high fashion, and engaging entertainment for the whole family is a fitting end to the season.
Galway Summer Festival
The Ballybrit racecourse in Galway is home to the annual Galway Summer Festival that takes place at the end of July. It’s one of the longest racing festivals in Ireland, and attracts entrants and spectators from all over the world.
If you’re looking for some glamour, don’t miss Ladies Day that takes place on Thursday of festival week. This day is by far the most stylish, with the ladies competing for the coveted Best Dressed Lady, and Most Elegant Hat awards.
The racing highlights of the Galway Festival are the Galway Plate, a national hunt chase, and the Galway Hurdle which is a national hunt hurdle race. The popularity of these races contributes to the reasons why the Galway Festival consistently attracts a 100,000 people each year.
Irish Grand National
The Irish Grand National has produced some memorable moments over the years. This national hunt steeplechase race is one of the headline races at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival. Spectators are on the edge of their seats as the field of 30 horses race around a track dotted with 24 hedges. The whole field rarely finishes the race. In fact, in 1928, only two riders crossed the finish line.
The most successful horse at the Irish Grand National was Brown Lad. He’s the only horse to have won the race three times: 1975, 1976 and 1978. The race is traditionally run on Easter Monday, with thousands attending on the day, and hundreds of thousands more tuning in on televisions and mobile devices to watch it live.
Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival
The Irish Derby Festival is a three-day event taking place at the end of June at the Curragh. This racecourse is in County Kildare, a popular area for horse breeding, and training.
The Irish Derby is an integral part of this event, and with a purse of close to €700,000, it attracts some of the top three-year-old racehorses in the world. The festival appeals to horse lovers, but the blend of fashion, and entertainment draws spectators from all corners of the world.
The Irish embrace horse racing, and its history in the region goes back centuries. For a small country, it packs a big punch on the international stage. Whether you’re planning a trip to the races or placing a bet at an online casino, you might have the luck of the Irish at one of these top Irish horse racing events.