Listowel is located at the heart of Co. Kerry. Like Layton, Listowel is one of the few jewels adorning the Irish racing calendar. The first race held in this region was nine miles long and was held at Ballyleigh. The race was an annual event held in the 19th century and included horse racing and other games.
The competitions always ended with a faction fight. Though the organizers tried to cover all the bases, these fights often caused disorder and chaos. So, in the long run, this annual event was stopped. However, in 1858, the racing bit of the event was reintroduced but at a different location.
Ladies day held during the 7-day Harvest Festival attracts large crowds of over 26,000. The large crowd comes with a vibrant vibe which brings Listowel to life. As we’ll see, getting to Listowel is easy, especially during the annual festivals.
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Listowel racecourse history
As we’ve pointed out, racing in Listowel dates back to the early 1800s when racing was just entertainment and was held alongside gang fights. However, the fights gave the horse racing events a bad rep and were stopped altogether. When they resumed in 1858, things were calmer and more organized.
Listowel racecourse’s debut was a two-day event that was held in October. Four years later, the event was extended to a three-day event. Despite the day increase, very little went down at the racecourse. In fact, it was 66 years before the first permanent enclosure and stand was built and close to a century before there was a concrete stand on the venue.
In 1966, Listowel racecourse had three spring fixtures added to their schedule. This was double the number of racing events that took place in the venue. Between 1970 and 1977, the number of races was increased. The festival was increased by an extra day with every race addition. The last addition was in 2002 when the event was increased to seven days.
With a growing list of events, the number of attendees increased, which triggered several changes on the racecourse. Some of these changes involved building new facilities like the Hannon Stand in 1980, and the Hugh Friel stand in 1998.
Another great addition to the Listowel racecourse was the Listowel Races Supporter Club, formed in 1987. The club still sponsors races on the racecourse to date.
The Listowel course is left-handed, oval, and flat. It measures 1 mile and 2f long and has a home straight that forms a 2f final. The nature of the course is undulating and tight, which makes it a real challenge for jockeys. Because of this, soft conditions and a steady pace are preferred.
The jump course is similar to the flat course but has nine hurdles and one fence. The course doesn’t ride fast, and when the ground goes soft, most horses cannot handle it. In addition, the black soil holds horses back than most, and the hurdles contests often see fields that have strung out. In this regard, the Listowel racecourse has a unique course on which you should show leniency to poorly performing horses.
Listowel main racing events
This is the largest horse racing festival at Listowel Racecourse. It originally went with the name North Kerry Hunt Steeplechase Meeting and takes place every year in September. Horse races are held over seven days, including flat races and national hunt races.
It’s the last festival that happens in summer and just before Christmas. Its attendance is second to Galway Races.
Guinness Kerry National
This is one of the most valuable races at Listowel. It is run every Wednesday during the Harvest Festival. Horses compete for over 3 miles, and the winner walks away with €200,000 in prize money. One of the event’s winners includes Monty Pass, who also won the Aintree Grand National.
Where to bet on Listowel races
Online Betting Sites
As a horse racing fan, watching the thrilling races isn’t always enough – you’ll want to put your money where your mouth is by placing bets. To do this, you can either visit the betting shops around the racecourse or register with an online betting site. Of course, both options have their fair share of pros and cons, but online betting seems to win the fight.
Below are some reasons why you should place your bets through online betting sites
Where competition abounds, the prices of products and services are bound to be fair. A couple of years ago, when online betting sites were new, they were expensive. But today, as more and more entrepreneurs are venturing into it, they’ve been forced to give better odds to stay competitive.
Aside from this, they have better odds compared to traditional betting sites because they have fewer overheads. This means that they need smaller margins to make profits – which greatly benefits punters.
Place bets any time
Traditional online betting shops are open during normal working hours. Moreover, you can only place bets before the races start. With online betting sites, you have the luxury of betting any time of the day or night before the race starts. And even when it starts, there’s the option of placing live bets.
Offers and promotions
To remain competitive, online betting sites run numerous offers and promotions for new and existing players. You’ll receive a lot of money through these promotional programs. However, always have in mind the wagering requirements before you buy into any offer. With this ‘free money,’ you can win loads of cash in a short span.
If this is your first rodeo, you’ll be pleased to note that online betting sites offer some invaluable statistics. With these stats, you get to know where to put your bets to improve your chances of winning.
How to get to Listowel racecourse
Eireann buses travel to and from Listowel from Tralee and Limerick every two hours.
When looking for taxis, check the local directory for taxi drivers available to take you to various destinations
You can drive from Limerick via the N69. From Cork town, take the N22 into Tralee and then proceed for thirty minutes into Listowel.
The closest station is in Tralee – Casement station.
The closest airport is 45 minutes away – Kerry Airport. It has direct flights from and to Dublin, Frankfurt, Stansted, Luton, and Berlin. For long-range flights, Shannon International airport, that’s an hour and 20 minutes away, is ideal.
While Listowel racecourse may not be the biggest racecourse in Ireland, it attracts one of the largest crowds with the Harvest Festival. Aside from this, it also has a two-day meeting in June which gathers a large crowd as well.