Thurles Racecourse Guide

The only privately owned racecourse in Ireland, Thurles, is also just one of four in the country that is exclusively a National Hunt venue.

The course is well-regarded as a jumps venue and it holds 11 fixtures during the National Hunt season, which runs from October through till March.

Map

Swap Start/End

The Course

The course at Thurles is undulating in nature, with rises and falls through the circuit, perhaps the steepest being the descent approaching the rising home straight. The right-handed track measures around a mile and a quarter and features seven fences. For both chases and hurdle races, handy types are favoured as it’s a course that is rather sharp on the bends.

Thurles is well known for having turf that drains exceptionally well. The ground very rarely turns testing and this leads to there being very few cancelled meetings. While the ground is remarkably resilient though, it does tend to be a little more so on the outside. You’ll sometime see jockeys pulling out this way if they are racing later in the day when the inside is a little chopped up.

Major Races

The Anaglog’s Daughter Mares Novice Chase is often run under a different name for sponsorship purposes and is a two and a half furlong chase that takes place every January. It’s the only race left at the course with Grade 2 status which makes it the most high class event to take place at Thurles, as well as the one with the biggest purse.

Although the Kinloch Brae Chase and Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle were downgrade to Grade 3 in 2017, they still have to be considered major races. The former has been won by some top horses including Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Sizing John and Dos Cossack. The latter is a Thurles’ top hurdle race, run over a distance of two and a half miles and is scheduled to take place in February or March.

Visiting

Most of the racing at Thurles falls on a Thursday with the exception of a couple of weekend fixtures.

  • Dress Code: There is no formal dress policy set at Thurles.
  • Ticket Prices: Entry to Thurles is to be purchased at the turnstiles on the day of the racing. Adults pay €15 while OAPs can enjoy a reduced rate of €8. This fee applies to all meetings and there are no other types of admission tickets. Hospitality and catering options are available inside the racecourse but no set packages are available as there is no option to book spaces in advance.
  • Membership: At Thurles, membership covers their season of racing as opposed to a calendar year. This means you have access to all 11 fixtures spread over two years, during which you will receive a free racecard, have use of the Clubroom and enjoy complimentary refreshments. There will also be around nine reciprocal fixtures, taking place throughout the year that you will be able to attend for free. Membership costs €120 for adults and €100 for OAPs.
  • Getting There: A regular train service between Dublin and Cork stops at Thurles railway station which is located around a mile from the racecourse. From the station, a shuttle bus will take you the course free of charge or you can, of course, opt to walk. If travelling by train isn’t a convenient option for you then Bernard Kavanagh coaches run to and from Thurles from a range of destinations across Ireland.
  • Parking: You’ll find parking available by the racetrack.

History

Current records date racing at Thurles back to 1732 when a three day meeting took place in June. The source of this information is a document called “Pues Occurances” which can be found in Trinity College. It hasn’t been a family owned racecourse for this time but the Molony family has been in charge since the early 1900s.

Originally it was Pierce Molony who was handed the reins to the racecourse by the local committee, who themselves had worked closely with Molony for many years. In the early days there were only four meetings at Thurles and only 20 stables, so many trainers had to bring their horses the day before the racing. Thanks to the help of the local community, extra stables were provided and this has not been the only instance of the community helping out at the racecourse.

Dr Paddy Molony took over control of the racecourse in 1960s and his son, named Pierce just like his grandfather, became manager in 1974. Sadly Pierce passed away in 2015 but his wife Riona, along with the help of their daughters, have been able to keep things running smoothly. For a course that was never purpose built to host horse racing, constant developments over the years have made it a pleasurable place for spectators to enjoy live racing.