Wexford Racecourse Guide

Close to the south-eastern corner of Ireland is where the county town of Wexford and its National Hunt racecourse can be found.

Since 2016, Wexford Racecourse has been one of just a few courses in Ireland to offer National Hunt racing exclusively. Its jumps fixtures take place outside of the main season however, running between April and October instead of the more conventional winter schedule.

Map

Swap Start/End

The Course

In 2015 the nine furlong course underwent a huge switch as it went from being a right-handed course to a left-handed one. The change has been largely approved by jockeys although spectators now don’t get such a close view of the winning post. It’s still a sharp course especially for the hurdles track which is furthermost inside, and one that favours speedy handy types.

Races now end with slightly uphill finish and there’s just the one obstacle down the home straight in both chases and hurdles. The fences at the course are fair and like the hurdles, there are six to a circuit. It’s a place known for having ground that varies a lot and it’s not an easy track to water either as the undulations means the ground tends to have inconsistent levels of firmness.

Major Races

By being awarded Listed status in 2013, the M.W. Hickey Memorial Chase became the first Listed race at the course since 2005. It has welcomed some good horses over the years including Double Seven, winner of the 2013 renewal who finished third in the Grand National the following season. The race, which is scheduled for late October, is the most valuable race at the course, a little ahead of the Veterans Handicap Chase. The two and a half mile contest sees some real experienced horses, at least 10 years old, trying to add another victory to their career tally.

Visiting

Wexford has a good mix of weekend and midweek meetings with some taking place in the afternoon and others the evening.

  • Dress Code: No formal rules relating to attire exist at Wexford.
  • Ticket Prices: Admission prices at Wexford stay the same for all fixtures, €15 for adults and €10 for OAPs & students. Children under 14 are allowed to enter for free. General admission tickets are to be purchased on the day of the race as pre-booking is not available. The All-In Ticket Package must be pre-booked however by phoning 087 3828099, it costs €30 and includes admission and a two course meal in the Ivy Room.
  • Membership: For €100 you can join the Supporters Club at Wexford and enjoy all 11 annual fixtures plus nine other reciprocal meetings. For racedays at Wexford you’ll have access to the private Supporters’ Club Bar where you can bring a guest along with you and you’ll be given complimentary hot beverages and a racecard. As an added bonus, you will be entitled to one free two course meal in the Ivy Room during the duration of your membership.
  • Getting There: Irish Rail run a service between Dublin and Wexford several times a day. Wexford railway station is situated just 2km from the racecourse and the journey can be made on foot, by taxi or by the Wexford Bus service that stops at the nearby Wexford General Hospital.
  • Parking: Free parking for 200 cars is available in the centre of the course with spaces issued on a first come first serve basis. The car park outside the main gates is for Owners and Trainers only.

History

Racing in Wexford dates back to 1870 but many would argue that the true beginning was on 15th October 1951 when the new course at Bettyville opened. Many enterprising people had been part of the project to build the new racing venue and on the opening day they saw a crowd of at least 17,000 in attendance. The new stands offered a great view for spectators to see the spacious green turf on what turned out to be a both pleasant and historic day.

For the first ever meeting, the price of admission was 10 shillings for the gents, five for the ladies and half-a-crown for anyone in the outside enclosure. Among those in attendance was W. T. Cosgrave who made an appearance to inspect the course along with N. O’Dwyer who was the course architect and contractor.

The Wexford Racecourse Supporters’ Club was to be founded 36 years later in 1987, with the aim of helping to raise funds for the course. This, along with an increase in sponsorship, led to there being sufficient money to improve the track by levelling the surface, draining it, cambering the bends and reducing the sharpness of the bend which led to the straight.

By improving the track, top trainers were now keen on sending runners to Wexford so it was very much a worthwhile investment. With fields bigger and of better quality, attention turned to improving the experience at the course for patrons. In May 1996, Minister of Agriculture, Ivan Yates T.D. officially opened a new stand which was fitted with bars and Tote betting facilities. The minister would return two years later to open the Ivy Room bar and restaurant.

Development of the course did not stop there and it’s something which continues on a regular basis. The nearby reservoir was moved to allow the course on the east side to be widened and the irrigation system has been improved. On top of this, stabling facilities have been increased in both size and quality and the area for jockeys has also been expanded and upgraded.