Leopardstown Racecourse Guide

Leopardstown Racecourse is one of Ireland’s biggest racecourses and one that accommodates both flat and National Hunt racing. Racing takes place all year round with approximately 23 meetings spread out across the calendar.

It is a track which has, in the past, often welcomed some of the finest thoroughbreds of their time. The excellent facilities and high-standing reputation ensure that big names still visit here and provide the spectators with some truly top class action.

Jump to: Course | Races | Useful Info | History


Swap Start/End

The Course

The flat course at Leopardstown is a very simple left handed oval, spanning around a mile and three quarters. The turns are straightforward and it’s largely flat except for a slight rise out of the last bend that continues to the finishing post. It’s essentially galloping in character with a slight draw bias, particularly in the six furlong races as the bend approaches so quickly after the off.

As for the jumping course, the shape and size mimics that of the galloping flat course. The fences aren’t the easiest but not overly difficult, although the three bunched together down the back straight can often pose a problem to those making their first appearances here. While trickier than it looks, generally the best horses tend to shine and you don’t get more surprises than you would otherwise expect in the unpredictable world of racing.

Major Races

Leopardstown has a schedule bursting full of Class 1 action and a good mix between high quality flat and jumping meets. When it comes to the flat racing, it hosts two of the 12 Irish Group 1 events, the Matron Stakes and the Irish Champion Stakes, which are run on the same weekend. The Matron Stakes provides a big platform exclusively for fillies and mares to compete over one mile, while the Irish Champion Stakes is a hugely prestigious 10 furlong affair boasting a prize purse well over €1m.

For jump racing, Leopardstown is able to secure a bigger portion of the top tier races and it hosts 13 of the 34 Group 1 races that take place during the National Hunt season. Some of the biggest amongst these include the Arkle Novice Chase, won by Douvan in 2016, the Gold Cup and the Irish Champion Hurdle, the latter of which has been won by such greats as Hurricane Fly and Istabraq.

A lot of the top jump races fall during Leopardstown’s busy four-day Christmas Festival. The action, which begins on Boxing Day, features the likes of the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase, Christmas Hurdle, Lexus Chase and the December Festival Hurdle, which is often used as a trial for Cheltenham’s Champion Hurdle the following March.


Leopardstown Racecourse Grandstand
Leopardstown Racecourse Grandstand (Sarah777 / Wikipedia.org)

When visiting Leopardstown Racecourse you’ll notice its unique feature of having an 18-hole golf course situated inside the track.

Useful Info

Dress Code

Leopardstown takes a relaxed stance on what you can wear and there are no strict guidelines to follow. Smart casual is recommended in general, however, and dressing up is encouraged, particularly on Ladies’ Days.

Ticket Prices

Online booking as well as on the day purchase is possible for all meets and tickets can be printed at home, rather than delivered or collected for no extra cost. During the Christmas Festival, each day costs €30 for adults and €20 for students and OAPs.

A spot in the top tier of the grandstand can be picked up for €60. Such pricing is quite typical for other big meetings, and for the remaining fixtures adult grandstand tickets will tend to range from €15-20 and seats in the top level will cost between €30 and €50.

There are tickets that also include a seat in the 1888 Restaurant and these start at €70 for adults and €35 for children, increasing to €125 and €60 respectively for bigger racedays.


Full membership at Leopardstown costs €250 for adults, €200 for seniors aged 65+ and the bargain price of just €90 for those aged 30 and below. There is also premium ‘seat membership’ which gives you your very own spot overlooking the finishing straight for optimum viewing: this is available for €350.

The last remaining option is a summer pass for the 10 meetings from late May to early September which costs just €90. Membership benefits include four complimentary admission and Members Bar passes, 10% restaurant discount, reciprocal racedays and the chance to attend a social afternoon and trainer visit during the year.

Getting There

Based just six miles south of the centre of Dublin, Leopardstown Racecourse is an easy place to get to. It’s highly accessible by car and has a range of public transport links including LUAS (light rail tram system) from St. Stephen’s Green to nearby Sandyford Station where a shuttle bus will collect you.

A complimentary shuttle bus also runs from Blackrock DART station on the days of the Christmas festival (excluding Boxing Day) with priority given to those who have purchased a Race and Rail ticket in advance (limit spaces are available).


There is a free car park accessible to all racegoers with two entrances to it, one from Leopardstown Road and the other close to Junction 15 of the M50.


Race at Leopardstown
Race at Leopardstown (stereoroid / Flickr.com)

Captain George Quin made the most of an economic slump to purchase 200 acres of cheap land in Foxrock and it would soon become home of Leopardstown Racecourse. The course, which was modelled on Sandown Park, opened its doors for the first time in 1888 – hence the name of the aforementioned restaurant at the course.

The opening fixture was a highly publicised one and masses of people showed up to enjoy the action under the glorious sunshine. In fact, things became a little too crowded and there was much pushing and shoving amongst people attempting to get their admission tickets. A Sporting Times reporter noted that it was a miracle that no lives were lost in the chaos!

Harold & Fred Clarke

Harold and Fred Clarke took charge of the racecourse in the early 1900s and it soon became a place offering both jump and flat racing. With the local area also growing in popularity as a place to live, Fred Clarke was concerned that the future of the racecourse may be in danger as the land was so valuable. T

o make sure this was never an issue, Clarke sold the grounds to the Racing Board in 1969 for a very low price of £300,000. Upon the sale, the track was re-laid, re-drained, widened and given a new stand.


While today Leopardstown is unable to draw in 20,000 spectators as it did on Champion Stakes day in 2001, attendances are still healthy and in 2015 they welcomed 167,000 people through their gates. Sustained investment has allowed Leopardstown to expand and it was given a €3m makeover in 2013 and a further €12m redevelopment across 2016 & 2017. It might not compare favourably with the best and most modern courses around but it’s certainly up there and well worth a visit.