Limerick Racecourse Guide

Around 10km south west of Limerick, by the village of Patrickswell, is where Limerick Racecourse can be found. There are 18 days of action here which take place throughout most of the year, January and February being the only two months without any scheduled meetings.

Having only opened its doors in 2001, Limerick is rather a new racecourse by UK and Irish standards. In fact, when it was completed, it was the first purpose built racecourse the country had seen in more than 60 years.

Map

Swap Start/End

The Course

Limerick’s right-handed circuit measures around a mile and three furlongs round. There is a tiring climb in the second half of the back straight before runners begin their descent as they approach the straight nearest the stands. Flat races here are shaped largely by the state of the ground. On quick going, a low draw is a really big help, as is a horse with plenty of pace as things can get very quick here. Those who stay off the pace can find it hard to make up ground especially as horses pass the top bend.

In jump races, you do sometimes see jockeys making their move too early and end up getting caught out on the slight rise in the final furlong. Despite the fences not being the most intimidating, it’s not the easiest track to ride at as five of them are situated quite close together down the back straight. On the other side of the track, the penultimate fence is known to be a tricky one.

Major Races

Limerick’s major races are mainly National Hunt affairs as there is a lack of high class Flat events. Several graded events feature during the main jumping season including March’s Dawn Run Mares’ Novice Chase and the Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle, won by the classy Faugheen in 2013, which runs on 29th December.

One of the most highly anticipated races though is the Grade A, Munster National. October’s three mile handicap usually welcomes fields of between 12-16 runners and in 2016 it was renamed to honour the memory of JT McNamara. It boasts a sizeable purse of €100,000 and you can expect a good crowd to be in attendance to watch it live.

Visiting

Most of Limerick’s racing takes place in the afternoon but there are usually three evening fixtures across June and July if you are after some twilight racing.

  • Dress Code: There is no dress code to follow at Limerick but there are prizes on selected racedays for the best-dressed lady.
  • Ticket Prices: Adult admission costs between €15 and €20 depending on the meeting and tickets can be purchased online. No concessionary rates are available but children under 12 are allowed in free. On some meetings there is the option of a “Punter’s Package” which is very good value at €19 and includes admission, a racecard, a pint of beer and a €5 bet but this package must be purchased online in advance. The range of hospitality options differ slightly from meeting to meeting but you can usually combine admission with a spot in the Panoramic Restaurant with prices ranging from €59 to €89 for adults and a flat €15 for children under 16.
  • Membership: It costs just €100 to become a member at Limerick, providing you with a big saving if you a regular visitor there. You’ll receive a racecard and complimentary beverages during all of Limerick’s 18 fixtures and there are additional reciprocal fixtures across Ireland and the UK to attend. On top of this you will have access to: the annual members’ car park, the Owners & Trainers bar and selected racing club trips.
  • Getting There: There are many different bus and train services that will take you into the centre of Limerick. The public bus service that used to stop by the racecourse is no longer running so to get from the city to the racing you’ll need a taxi which will cost around €15.
  • Parking: Plenty of parking is available for cars and this is a good option for those not intending to enjoy a drink or three.

History

An eventful history of racing at Limerick began when its first ever racecourse opened for business way back in 1790. In the years that followed, racing moved from place to place in the area and in total six more different locations were used: Bruff, Rathkeale, Newcastle, Lemonfield, Ballinacurra and Greenpark, which closed in 1999. The course at Greenpark had been hosting racing for 130 years but with Limerick’s urban centre expanding, a new location, further out from the centre, was needed.

It was a sad farewell to an old course which had witnessed so much over the years. Many great races took place there and they even had some very special visitors on a couple of occasions. U.S President John F. Kennedy visited in 1963 when delivering a speech to 6,000 people and Pope John Paul II drew in a crowd of 400,000 people celebrating mass in 1979 during a tour of Ireland.

The course which currently serves as the home of Limerick Racecourse was purchased three years prior to the closure at Greenpark. It was an ideal selection given that it contained nearly 400 acres of greenbelt farmland with unobstructed views and which had previously held local point to point racing for a very long time.

Although the new site had plenty going for it, a lot of work was needed to level the surface which had a substantial 27.5m fall across the site. In addition to this, roads, car spaces and drainage infrastructure all needed to be built from scratch along with the grandstand and its large cantilevered truss roof. The new course opened to a record breaking crowd of 18,000 people and since then it has gone on to become one of Ireland’s premier racing venues.