Killarney Racecourse Guide

Killarney’s picturesque racecourse is located close to the scenic Lough Leane and the 15th century Ross Castle. It hosts both National Hunt and Flat racing, sometimes mixing the two types during the same day.

Killarney’s 11 days of racing are split into three distinct festivals that feature in May, July and August. May’s festival is the shortest at three days while the two later in the year are both four days long.

Map

Swap Start/End

The Course

Killarney’s left-handed course is quite sharp in nature partly thanks to the very tight bend up from the finishing post. Approaching this corner badly can cost a horse time and energy so it is important jockeys get it right. A low draw is preferable in flat races although there is enough straight racing to allow jockeys to slot into a decent position. Be wary of the home ‘straight’ though as it is constantly edging slightly to the left, making passing on the outside a little more difficult.

There are six fences on the nine furlong jump course and they are ones which jockeys usually enjoy. Even for novice chasers the fences provide little resistance and after the final one there is a run-in of around a furlong. The ground at Killarney can turn soft more quickly than most courses so if there’s any rain before or during racing, it’s something to be wary of as more stamina will be required.

Major Races

Listed status makes the long titled Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Cairn Rouge Stakes a big race not just in title. This catchy-named contest takes place during the July Festival and in 2016 it was the richest race to take place at Killarney. Another listed race is the Vincent O’Brien Ruby Stakes, a one mile 70 yard race that features on the opening day of the August Festival. It appears two days before the Kingdom Gold Cup Handicap, a valuable race by Killarney’s standards although you won’t see any big names in attendance for it.

Visiting

County Killarney is one of Ireland’s top tourist destinations and there really is plenty to enjoy before or after a trip to the racecourse.

  • Dress Code: No strict dress policy is set by Killarney Racecourse but they do encourage racegoers to come in smart casual attire, especially those who will be accessing the hospitality areas.
  • Ticket Prices: A typical raceday at Killarney will cost adults €15 to €20, depending on which festival it is. Tickets on Ladies Day, usually the last day of the July and August Festival, will cost €5 more than the other days unless purchased at least two months in advance thanks to an early bird offer. BBQ package tickets vary between €30 and €40 while hospitality tickets that include a three course restaurant meal cost €60-75. If you are intending to attend every day of a particular Festival, you’ll save money buying a ticket for the whole event. All tickets can be purchased online but OAPs and students who are looking to attend must pay at the gate to receive their discounted rate. Children under 12 are admitted free if accompanied by an adult.
  • Membership: Annual membership is offered at Killarney for €250. Not only do you receive free admission to all meetings (and other fixtures across Ireland) but you will be able to take a guest along with you to each one, free of charge. When there you will have access to the exclusive private members’ bar with its superb view of the parade ring.
  • Getting There: There are many regular train and bus routes that service Killarney from all over Ireland. Killarney Bus & Train Station is just half a mile from the racecourse so this means travelling there by public transport couldn’t be much easier.
  • Parking: Parking is available both inside the track and in the car parks just outside the racecourse.

History

Racing has been present in Killarney since 1822 although it took over century for it to find a permanent home, regularly moving from place to place before this. Its current home hosted its first meeting in 1936 just as the area was gathering a reputation for being a holiday destination.

A summer festival was added 11 years after the course opened and holding festivals rather than individual racedays is a strategy which has worked very well. The course celebrated 80 years of business in 2016 with an extra special July Festival. A year later and Killarney would again be in a buoyant mood as they opened their state-of-the-art stable with its 54-horse capacity. It was at this time that the racecourse was estimated to be worth €6.2m to the town, a fee which excluded the €1.42m paid out in prize money.