Waterford and Tramore Racecourse Guide

On the south east coast of Ireland close to picturesque sandy beaches lies the Waterford and Tramore Racecouse. Tramore has long been associated with tourism but the seaside town has also a strong links to racing dating back many years.

Waterford and Tranmore’s dual purpose course holds 11 days of racing per year starting on New Year’s Day and ending in October. It’s best known for the popular four day festival that takes every August.

Map

Swap Start/End

The Course

With plenty of right-handed turns around a course measuring just seven and a half furlongs round, racing at Tramore is rather tricky. Added to the sharp nature of the course are undulations throughout, finishing with a rising home straight a little over a furlong in length. Unless the going is soft, you want horses that ride prominently in flat races as it’s too difficult to make up ground. Be aware that there are no starting stalls at Tramore so horses unaccustomed to flag starts can get into difficulties.

Jump racing takes place on the inside of the flat track so it’s even sharper in nature. There are five easy fences to a circuit with the last of them close to the finishing post meaning the run-in is short. Due to the difficult nature of the course, it’s a place where many horses struggle but there are some, usually horses with great balance, who do thrive and become course specialists. You can also see rider specialists too as jockeys here really have to ride smartly and bravely to get the victory.

Major Races

Although races during the much celebrated four day August meeting always have a big feel to them, there is a high quality event outside of the festival in the form of the Holden Plant Rentals Chase. Run on New Year’s Day, the race which is also known as the Tramore Listed Chase, has been able to welcome some recognisable names since being introduced in 1999. While conditions are often muddy, sometimes extremely so, it only suffered its first cancellation in 2016.

Visiting

Be aware that while the first three days of the August Festival take place in the morning, the last is scheduled for the afternoon.

  • Dress Code: There is no dress code set by the organisers at Tramore.
  • Ticket Prices: Racedays at Tramore and Waterford cost €15 for adults and €10 for concessions (students and OAPs). Concessionary tickets can be purchased online along with adult admission but ID will be required on the day of the race. For online purchases, a booking fee of £1.50 will be applied to the entire order to cover postage costs. Accompanied children under 18 are admitted free of charge. For adults wanting to attend all of the August Festival, money can be saved by buying a four day ticket in advance for €50. Family tickets are available on all racedays allowing entry for two adults and two children for €25. Some meeting also come with the option of a three course meal on a reserved table in the Graun Hill Suite for €40-€65.
  • Membership: Annual badge holders get entry to all of Tranmore’s 11 annual fixtures and they will receive both a racecard and complimentary refreshments at each one. Members are allowed to bring a guest with them to the Winner Circle Bar while also purchasing discounted tickets for other friends/family. All this plus an annual club trip and 20 reciprocal fixtures is available for €100 per year. Alternatively, there is the option of an admission only annual badge for €60 which simply includes entry to races at Tramore and at the reciprocal meetings.
  • Getting There: Daily trains originating from Dublin Heuston serve Plunkett Station in Waterford which is the closest train station to the course. From here it’s around a 20 minute taxi ride to Tranmore Racecourse or you can catch the 360 bus service, which runs every 30 minutes from Waterford Bus Station.
  • Parking: Free parking is available at the racecourse.

History

On the beach is where racing originally began at Tranmore, all the way back in 1785. The strand races continued for decades and by 1807 it had grown into a six day festival in August. This tradition of summer racing has continued since this day and which is why the August Festival is such a big occasion.

With beach racing on the decline in the late 19th century though, local landowner Martin Murphy took it upon himself to improve the state of affairs at Tranmore. Helped by a committee of local businessmen, he redeveloped the facilities and ended up revitalising the annual festival.

Things carried on as normal until 1911 when a terrible storm caused severe damage to facilities at the beach. It once more left Martin Murphy with a problem to fix and his solution this time was to offer his land at Graun Hill as a new location for local racing. The racecourse committee graciously accepted the offer and ever since racing has taken place on the same site.

Ownership of the course changed a couple of times after the death of Mr Murphy in 1920 before being bought by a consortium led by Peter Queally in 1997. In the nine years following the takeover, €5m was invested to upgrade the track and enclosures. Plans to relocate the course beside Tranmore’s back strand were initially approved in 2006 but the cost of the project proved too much and plans were later scrapped.

On the first day of the new Millennium, Tramore made history be being the only course in Europe to stage a meeting. Over 10,000 people showed up to celebrate the New Year alongside some live racing, the biggest crowd at Tramore had seen in decades.

The first ever race of the new millennia was won by the optimistically named No Problem, ridden by local jockey, Shay Barry. Exactly two years later and the course witnessed another significant moment as it became the first racing venue to host a meeting in which euros were used to place bets.