Leopardstown Racecourse is located 6 miles away from Dublin’s city centre and is right at the foot of the Dublin Mountains. Needless to say, you’ll have a great view of the mountains. For the romantics in the house, the course also makes a great spot for picnics.
There are 23 race days, including the Flat and National Hunt race highlights held during the Christmas Festival, Dublin Racing Festival, Longines Irish Champions Weekend and the Bulmers Live.
According to pros, the tracks are stiff, and horses need to be strong and have the stamina to compete successfully. Because of this, only the best horses and jockeys get the chance to compete here.
Aside from horse racing, Leopardstown Racecourse has quite a bit going on, including a clubhouse and a golf course stack. And along the grandstands, there are designer shops, a fitness centre, bars, a restaurant, a pavilion, and a nightclub. So it’s safe to say that the racecourse is more like a small town that attracts tourists, locals, and racing fans.
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Leopardstown racecourse history
We cannot tell the history of this racecourse without mentioning Captain George Quinn. Why? Well, he made a big move during an economic slump to purchase 200 acres of land in Foxrock. It’s this land that later housed Leopardstown Racecourse.
The course was designed to resemble Sandtown Park and opened its doors in 1888. The inaugural day was highly publicized and thousands of people showed up to enjoy the races. In fact, according to reporters, the venue got a little too crowded and people were pushing and shoving each other to get their hands on tickets. A reporter at Sporting Times recorded that it was a miracle no life was lost amidst the chaos.
In the early 1900s, Fred and Harold Clarke took over the racecourse and turned it into a spot for both flat and jump racing. But because the surrounding area was growing and more and more people built their homes nearby, Fred was afraid the racecourse would be lost to investors.
To ensure this never happened, he sold the land to the Racing Board in 1969 for only £300,000. Shortly after finalizing the sale, the racecourse track was re-drained, re-laid, widened and a new stand was re-erected.
While Leopardstown racecourse might have a hard time drawing spectators in the hundreds of thousands, as it did in 2001 on Champion Stakes day, attendances are relatively healthy. In 2015, 167,000 streamed through its gates.
Over time, Leopardstown has received continuous investment for expansions and makeovers. For instance, in 2013 it received €3m and in 2016/17 it received an extra €12m. Even with these financial injections, it might not be the most modern course in Ireland, but it’s certainly worth visiting.
Leopardstown Racecourse has two courses- a jump and a flat course
The flat track
This is a wide, oval and left-handed track that’s 1.75 miles long. Since the turns are tight, the horses need some stamina to compete.
The jumps track
This track is similar to the flat track in that it is wide, oval, turns to the left and measures 1.75 miles. The bends on this track are also sharp but pose a great test for a horse’s stamina. But despite the fences coming in thick and fast, the obstacles are fair, and great jumpers will have a bit of an easy time.
Leopardstown main racing events
This is an Irish Group 1 flat horse race that’s open to all horses that are 3+ years old. It’s an annual event that is held at Leopardstown and covers 2,012 meters.
The event was created in 1976 by Joe McGrath. He was a successful racecourse owner and the brains behind the Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake.
At one point, the Champion Stakes was known as the Phoenix Champion Stakes and ran at the Phoenix Park. However, in 1991, it was rebranded and brought back to Leopardstown Racecourse. Today, it’s part of the Breeder’s Cup Challenge and a renowned prep race for major races.
This Champions Weekend includes races from the Champion Stakes as well as the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes. It also includes 4 Group 1 Races.
The Dublin Racing Festival
This is a two-day racing event that started in 2018 and includes 15 races. Of the 15, eight are Grade 1 contests. The Festival combines three stand-alone meetings held between January and mid-February.
Irish Gold Cup
This is another Grade 1 race that was started in 1987 and is only open to horses older than five years. It is held at Leopardstown in February and covers a distance of 4,828 meters. Along the track, there are 17 fences for horses to jump over.
Spring Juvenile Hurdle
The Spring Juvenile Hurdle is a 2-mile Grade 1 race held in February and only open to horses aged four and above. Often, the horses that participate go on to compete in the Triumph Hurdle. The first Spring Juvenile Hurdle was held in 1994 and was a replacement for the Le Coq Hardi Hurdle.
Where to bet on Leopardstown races
You can opt to be in local betting shops at the racecourse or place online bets. However, as a serious horse race punter, you know nothing beats the convenience of online betting sites. First off, you can place your bets while on the road provided you have an internet connection.
Aside from convenience, most betting sites offer bonuses to beginners and run promotions to reward loyal clients. Moreover, they have research tools that share insight on recent and past horse performances.
However, we should insist on placing your horse race bets with reputable betting platforms. The platform should be registered to operate in Ireland and support deposit and withdrawal options available to you.
How to get to the Leopardstown racecourse
Leopardstown Racecourse is about 6 miles from Dublin’s city centre and is accessible by both public transport and road. You can access it from the M50, taking exit 15 and follow the signs to the racecourse. Onsite parking is free and gets crowded on busy days. As such, it’s prudent to arrive early.
Dublin’s LUAS tram service
The LUAS takes 20 minutes from Dublin City Center to Sandyford. From Sandyford, the racecourse is a few minutes walk away. Alternatively, on race days, you can opt to take the complimentary shuttle bus service.
DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport)
The nearest train station is Blackrock. It has shuttle buses that ferry people to the racecourse during events. The station is only 1 hour away by road, and it also has a direct bus service to Leopardstown Racecourse.
Leopardstown Racecourse is a jewel in the Irish horse racing world. The course hosts premium flat racing and national hunts all year round, including the Champion Stakes and the Champion Hurdle, amongst others. Moreover, it’s naturally beautiful and the circuits attract horses with strength and stamina making for an exhilarating race. So if you are looking for a racecourse with ample races to bet on, you can try Leopardstown.
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