Ballinrobe Racecourse Guide

Towards the north west of the small town of Ballinrobe you’ll find a dual purpose racecourse. It’s the only racing venue in County Mayo and only one of four based in Connaught.

Improvement work at the course was formally recognised in 2012 when Ballinrobe was awarded the title of Racecourse of the Year by the Irish Racegoers Consultative forum. It remains a small track but for those in the west of Ireland it’s a fantastic option.

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The Course

Ballinrobe’s right handed oval track used for flat racing is a tight one with a very small run in of barely a furlong. With the small finish also being downhill, it’s very hard to make up ground around after the final bend which is an especially tight one. As such, it pays to ride prominently here and a low draw is also of benefit. Speed is an important attribute too but it is important that jockeys are able to control it around the last corner or they risk being slung very wide.

For jump racing, there are two tracks to choose from as a new extension has been built parallel with the old back straight. The old track is tighter and tends to suit horses that run at the front of the pack compared to the new track extension which lets runners take the final bend at an easier angle. The obstacles are undemanding, so much like the flat course, it’s the ability to take the last sharp turn well which can make the difference at Ballinrobe.

Major Races

Ballinrobe is a small course and there are no top, top class races held there. However, with a prize fund of €30,000 each, the Mayo National and the Coranna Handicap Hurdle are Ballinrobe’s most valuable races. Both races feature on the same meeting which is typically held in late May and the pair are usually able attract a large fields featuring horses from some top trainers.

Visiting

There isn’t a busy schedule of racing at Ballinrobe, with just nine fixtures held each year between May and September.

  • Dress Code: With there being no dress code at Ballinrobe, racegoers should dress in whatever feels comfortable and suitable for the potentially wild Irish weather. There is a tendency for Ladies to dress up on Ladies Day but this is not compulsory.
  • Ticket Prices: The ticket pricing structure is very straightforward at Ballinrobe. Adult entry is €15, pensioners and students receive a concessionary rate of €10 and children under 14 are admitted free. Adult tickets but not OAP/student tickets can be purchased online and collected for free from the racecourse but there is no discount for doing so. Admission along with a four course gourmet meal in the Coranna Restaurant starts at €55 per person, bookings must be made by phone or e-mail.
  • Membership: The fee to join Ballinrobe Members’ Club is €100 and with this you’ll get access to their nine annual race meetings plus 11 reciprocal days at other courses. For the fixtures at Ballinrobe you’ll be able to enjoy the racing from the Members, Owners & Trainers lounge and be given a free racecard.
  • Getting There: Driving is by far the easiest way to get to the course as the closest train station, Claremorris, is 21km away and there are infrequent bus services to Ballinrobe. If driving, you’ll find that the course is beside a very accessible main road just 2km from Ballinrobe Town. Note that accommodation is often limited, especially during the summer months.
  • Parking: Free parking is available both on the course and just outside it.

History

Ballinrobe has a history of racing stretching back over 230 years so it’s long been a big part of the community. Little is known about the exact details of what races took places before World War One but we do know that it was 1921 when the course moved to its current location.

Since then several top horses have made their competitive debuts at Ballinrobe. One example is Doran’s Pride, former Stayers’ Hurdle champion, who made a winning start to his career on the County Mayo course in 1993 during a two mile flat race. The course also become the place where Traverse, owned by Hector O'hEochagain, star of the mini-series ‘Only Fools Buy Horses’ won his first race on Irish soil.

Following a storm that damaged the main stand in 1992, Ballinrobe has undergone some serious development work. A new 1,800 capacity grandstand was built along with a new boundary wall, turnstiles and sanitary facilities. The improvements were enough to encourage Tote Ireland to redevelop their own building inside the racecourse.

A steady stream of further investment in facilities followed, allowing Ballinrobe to improve the banking on the course, add a new ambulance track, upgrade the stable facilities and introduce new Steward and Jockey facilities. The most recent development, however, was the construction of a new pavilion and restaurant to provide both shelter and fine food for racegoers.

These additions have thoroughly modernised the facilities and Ballinrobe is certainly worthy of a visit.