Gowran Park racecourse is about 13 km to the east of Kilkenny. It’s in a scenic location with a dual purpose track, and that holds horse racing events all year round. Over the years, it has held some notable winners like Hedge hunter, Numbersixvalverde, and On His Own.
Gowran is one of the most well-maintained and picturesque racecourses in Ireland. Even better, it’s serviced by railway from Dublin and Waterford. There’s also a free shuttle bus you can board to the course. As if that’s not enough, there’s a whopping 18-hole golf course stack in the middle of the track that’s available for use any day no horse races are going on.
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Gowran Park racecourse history
Gowran Park Racecourse first opened its gates to horse racing fans in 1914. The horse racing schedule consisted of steeplechases and flat races under the Irish National Hunt rule, where the prize money was £130. Because the races included high-profile racers like Lord Annaly, Gowran Park Racecourse has attracted thousands of horse racing fans, trainers, and horse owners. And since its horse racing calendar is always packed, the facility receives a lot of media publicity all year round. The key track events on the racecourse are televised in Ireland and other world-renowned sports channels.
The prevailing race company was set up in 1948 with Jack Duggan as its first managing director. Jack Duggan saw the racecourse through a series of many firsts, including the first racecourse commentary in 1952, the first open-quoted Tote Jackpot in 1966, and the first televised race.
History attributes the success of Gowran Park Racecourse to the outstanding leadership of able board chairmen and managing directors. However, we cannot dispute that its beautiful location has played a big role in its growth and popularity over the years.
Now, the new Grandstand and accompanying facilities were unveiled in 2003. The recent complex marked the conclusion of a range of development programs on the racecourse funded by Horse Racing Ireland. With state-of-the-art facilities, it’s not a wonder that Gowran attracts thousands of tourists from around the globe, including Canada and the US.
In 2006, the racecourse held a maiden Group 3 flat race event. The fact that the Lanwades Stud Fillies Stakes and the Denny Cordell Lavarack were elevated to Group 3 levels shows Gowran Park’s desire and dedication to providing high-quality flat racing. Other notable National Hunt races include the Goffs Thyestes Chase and Red Mills Day.
The oval course is 1.5 miles long and has a rather smooth rise and fall. There’s a climb towards the finish, and down the straight that’s three furlongs. The course is more like a speed track that favours horses that are ridden prominently. A low draw is profitable for most distances, especially seven-furlongs, as being stuck on the outside right before the bend can lead to a loss.
The Jump course is similar to the flat course but with extra hurdles. The course is more of a stamina test than a speed test. The chase track is located on the outside of hurdles, and there are three fences on the uphill as you approach the final stretch. Here, the first three are the most challenging. With that said, races feel the fences are testy enough and don’t cause horses problems.
Gowran Park main racing events
Some of the popular and main horse racing events held at Gowran Park include:
Denny Cordell Lavarack Fillies Stakes
The race was named after Denny Cordell-Lavarack, a record producer who later became an Ireland racehorse trainer. Family and friends created the Group 3 flat horse race to celebrate his life. Thoroughbred mares and fillies aged 3 years or more race in this event over 1 mile.
This is a National Hunt steeplechase race that runs for over 3 miles and has 17 fences. Horses that participate in this race proceed to compete in the Grand National later.
Red Mills Trial Hurdle
This is another Grade 3 National Hunt hurdle event. It runs for over 2 miles and has nine hurdles.
Red Mills Chase
This is a Grade 2 National Hunt Chase that’s run for 2 miles and 4 furlongs. Before 2002, the race was 3 miles long.
Gowran Park Champion Chase
This is a Grade 2 National Hunt chase in Ireland open to horses over five years olds. It’s run over 4,023 meters every year in October.
This is a Grade 2 National Hunt hurdle that’s run over 3 miles and has 13 hurdles.
Where to bet on Gowran Park races
You have two options for horse race betting on Gowran Park races – betting shops or online betting sites.
Online betting sites
While betting shops are somewhat convenient for racers at the racecourse, it can get cumbersome with the long queues during main events. Online betting sites offer great convenience for those at the racecourse and those at home. Moreover, they offer a wide range of betting options, payment options, and withdrawal options. If you are adept with the software and have a reasonably fast internet connection, you’ll have your bets sent and paid almost instantly.
However, to have a great online betting experience, it’s important to choose a reputable betting site, one that has licenses from reputable regulation bodies and that has loads of offers. Luckily, there are lots of betting sites that fit the criteria.
How to get to Gowran Park racecourse
The park is 13km from Kilkenny, 48km from Waterford, and 130 km from Dublin. So using Google maps is easy from any of these towns.
Thomastown and Kilkenny Station have regular train services from Dublin and Waterford. In addition, there are taxis from the stations to the racecourse.
Dublin airport is one hour and twenty minutes out.
Gowran Park Racecourse is undeniably beautiful and has modern facilities that make it a great destination for travellers. And when there are no horse races, the course is used for golf. So it’s truly an all-year-round racecourse for Ireland’s visitors.