Killarney town is one of Ireland’s most renowned tourist destinations, and the Killarney racecourse is one of its main attractions. All events on this picturesque racecourse are grouped into three and held in May, July, and August. For the most part, horse races happen in the evening, making the racecourse a perfect place to wind down after a long day of sightseeing in the city or country.
It also helps with its popularity that the racecourse holds several meetings, including the Cairn Rouge Stakes, the Kingdom Gold Cup, the Ruby Stakes and a couple of other exciting hurdle races.
With that said, let’s dig deep into the racecourse history and course layout to prove that it’s not just hype.
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Killarney racecourse history
As with everything great, the Killarney racecourse didn’t start at the top. A lot of hard work, money and calculated risks have gone into building it into what it is today.
The first horse racing event in Killarney was in 1822. The locals loved it and held subsequent meetings in different locations until 1901. In those days, meetings were sponsored by the Earl of Kenmare and Lord Clanmorris. The most popular meeting was Kenmare Stakes which took place between 1826 and 1830.
The first race ever on the current Killarney racecourse was in 1936, and almost immediately, the course’s reputation as a holiday meeting location shot through the roof.
Over the years, it has experimented with a different combination of meetings but has settled in hosting Racing Festivals. There’s a three-day meeting in May, and in July and August, there’s a four-day festival. This recipe seems to be working great for them as the course celebrated 80 years of business in 2016 in style.
In 2017, Killarney’s management decided to take things a notch higher and set up state-of-the-art stables with a capacity of 54 horses.
The Killarney racecourse track is left-handed, undulating, and sharp. A complete track circuit measures 10 furlongs and features a tough bend right after the finishing post. This course is different from others in Ireland because it doesn’t have a homestretch. Instead, there’s a constant bend from the 3-furlong mark to the finishing post.
The jump course features six relatively easy fences. But even with only six fences, the track isn’t all flowers and rainbows. This is because three of the fences are located after the 3f for the home run (on the bend), and poor jumps on these can kill a horse’s chances of winning.
We should also point out that the ground doesn’t hold rainwater well. Instead, it gets soft fast, so you should be sure to check the track before the race.
Killarney main racing events
Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Cairn Rouge Stakes
This race is the feature event of a four-day affair. It’s a flat race that’s open to thoroughbred mares and fillies above three years old. The horses run over 1,701 meters.
The race takes place every year in July and was started in 2014.
Vincent O’Brien Ruby Stakes
This race is named after Vincent O’Brien, a renowned Irish trainer. It was first held in 1997 at Tralee until 2007 and later at Dundalk the following year before moving to Killarney racecourse.
The Ruby Stakes is a flat race that’s open to thoroughbred mares and fillies over three years old. It’s run over 1,628 meters and is held every year in August.
Kingdom Gold Cup Handicap
This is an extended handicap that’s only open to fillies over three years old and is held in August.
Where to bet on Killarney races
Online betting sites
The debate on whether to place bets online or at a traditional betting shop has been ongoing for a while, with most people wanting to know which is better between the two. However, the answer is rather subjective as it all depends on your preferences. And for the most part, you can make do with both or pick one each time, depending on what suits you.
Below are some of the pros and cons of each betting method
- Social experience – you get to interact with other punters and feel the energetic atmosphere at betting shops. In addition, you can watch games on big TV screens at a betting shop, meet new people, and make friends.
- Safety – local shops will never refuse to make a payout. Also, you don’t have to share personal information with the betting shop.
- Fast payout – you can pick the wins a couple of minutes after every match ends, provided you can make it to the shop during normal working hours.
- Human customer support – there’s a person you can talk to when you need assistance. Even when you don’t get a reply immediately, it’s better than speaking to a bot.
But on the flip side, there are cons as well, including:
- Slow live betting
- Additional expenses
- They cannot pay out cash as fast as you’d like
- No hassles of travelling – you don’t have to travel to the city to place your bets. You can place your bets online without wasting time.
- No schedule – unlike traditional shops, you don’t have to adhere to professional working hours. You can place your bets any time you please – even in the middle of the night.
- Privacy – you can place your bets without meeting anyone. Also, your details remain private on the online sites.
- Loads of promotions and great odds – since online betting platforms have lower overheads, they can afford to remain in business by making small margins from the bets. This way, they provide you with better odds.
How to get to Killarney racecourse
Killarney train station offers regular services from major cities across the country. The train station is 0.5 miles from the racecourse.
Like the train station, the bus station is 0.5 miles from the racecourse. The bus station services major cities in Ireland as well.
The ferry options in Killarney are available from Dun, Larne, Belfast, Laoghaire, Rosslare, and Dublin.
Kerry Airport is 15 minutes from Killarney, while Shannon and Cork’s airports are 90 minutes away. There is also a helicopter landing on the racecourse.
Killarney is a premium tourist hotspot in Ireland, and the Killarney racecourse contributes most of the traffic in summer. Overall, it’s a serene course, and there’s lots of accommodation around for a comfortable stay.