Naas Racecourse Guide

Approximately 18 miles south west of Dublin is where Naas Racecourse is located. The County Kildare course is well regarded among those who attend and it often attracts a high standard of racing with several Class 1 races taking place throughout the year.

Nass typically holds 17 meetings that stretch almost across the entire year. December is the only month where the course takes a break. It’s National Hunt and Flat racing on offer, both which are split into the two regular seasons.

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Swap Start/End

The Course

Naas is a great galloping course and one that really lets runners stretch their legs. The left-handed bends aren’t too tight and there is a long, uphill, four furlong straight on the way to the finishing post. Five and six furlong races take place on an extension of the straight, allowing sprint races to be run on a straight track which has had its ridges flattened out. There is no real draw bias for sprint races but on soft going it is of slight benefit to be on the outside as ground can be a little bit firmer there.

For National Hunt races, staying types are often needed to cope with the long uphill finish. The run-in after the final fence is two furlongs but you don’t tend to see horses come from deep to win and prominent runners should be favoured. The fences, of which there are eight to a circuit, are stiff but don’t offer an unfair test of a horse’s jumping ability. One thing to be wary of is that the turf between the winning post and top of the course can get very heavy after some winter rain, more so than the rest of the track.

Major Races

Naas celebrated its first Grade 1 race in 2015 when the Slaney Novice Hurdle, now known as the Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle was upgraded from Grade 2. Incidentally, this was also the year the two and a half mile race witnessed its biggest shock as 33/1 shot Mckinley snatched victory right at the death. It often sees runners who go onto compete at the Cheltenham Festival later in the season, including Mckinley himself.

When it comes to Flat racing then the Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes is the pick of the bunch. Contested each year in May, it welcomes some talented fillies, most often three or four years old, who compete over one mile and two furlongs. One of the most high profile former winners is Pleascach who went on to win Irish 1,000 Guineas very shortly after her victory at Naas.

Visiting

Meetings at Naas usually take place on weekends but you can find the odd meeting during the week and all are lively affairs with decent numbers in attendance.

  • Dress Code: As with most courses in Ireland, there are no dos and don’ts surrounding what to wear at Naas, it is only recommended that you dress for the weather. Dressing up is more than welcome though especially for ladies on either of the two Best Dressed Ladies Days during the year where prizes are on offer.
  • Ticket Prices: General admission to Naas usually costs €15 and with this you will receive a €5 betting voucher. These tickets can be purchased at the racecourse on the day or online, but a handling fee of €1.50 applies to any online bought tickets. OAPs can purchase entry at the gate for just €9 which comes with a complimentary tea/coffee voucher while both under 18s and students under 25 are admitted free of charge. There are two hospitality packages available which both include admission, the main course option costs €49 per person and the four course experience costs €59-66 depending on the meeting you attend.
  • Membership: It costs €130 for an adult to become an annual member at Naas and €89 for the over 65s. You will be able to watch all the action at Naas while having access to the exclusive Members, Owners & Trainers bar as well as having the opportunity to attend 21 reciprocal fixtures. Other benefits of being a member include a free racecard at every meet, free guest passes to selected racedays, a visit to a racing yard and reduced panoramic restaurant dining packages. The alternative membership option is family membership at €60 which lets two adults and accompanying children into the three annual Family Run Race Days.
  • Getting There: Sallins train station which has links to Dublin Heuston is the nearest you can get to the course by train. From here it’s around 4km to the course and a shuttle bus will be operating to cover the journey both ways. There will also normally be a special Dublin Coach service every raceday that originates at Dublin Airport and passes through Red Cow Luas on its way to Naas.
  • Parking: There is no charge for parking and spaces are issued on a first come first serve basis.

History

Plans for a racecourse in Naas originated in January 1921 when 30 businessmen and farmers formed a syndicate to buy land at Tipper, all putting in £200 each. The historic Naas Racecourse Company was officially set up a year later and despite a lot of difficulties facing the newly formed group, the racecourse was finally ready for action on 19th June 1924.

Initially it lacked the facilities of many other racecourses at the time but improvements made during the course of the 1950s helped rectify that. Changes included a new tote building, modifications to the enclosure buildings, a new entrance from Dublin Road and enhanced standing facilities.

Over the years many famous horses have competed and won at Naas. Some of the most well-known to have appeared here include Arkle, who secured just his second career victory when winning the two mile Rathconnel Handicap Hurdle in 1962. Irish Derby champion Ragusa was in attendance two years later when winning the Ardenode Stakes on his debut run as a four-year-old.

In Irish terms Naas is one of the larger, better equipped tracks. It strikes a nice mix of charm and modern facilities and offers great value for money too.