Sligo racecourse is home to Flat and National Hunt meetings, which take place in eight fixtures every year. However, horse racing action is limited to the summer months, starting in late April or early May and ending in early October.
Sligo town is famous for being an important industrial and commercial hub of West Ireland. Moreover, it’s a popular tourist destination partly thanks to its wonderful scenery surrounding the space. This is one of the few things that make it a picturesque destination in Ireland.
Sligo Racing Tips
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Sligo racecourse history
For many years, racing has been held in Sligo, with the earliest meeting recorded in the area dating back to 1781. The meeting was run under the Turf Club rules. It was a four-day meeting that was held in a three-mile area at Bowmore, Rosses Point. The stakes were 200 Guineas, and for decades, it was a popular meeting that was held consistently, albeit with some cancellations.
Racing continued until the 1840s, with many gaps in between. Finally, however, the situation was resolved by Mr John Wynne, who created the new course on his land at Hazelwood. The initial meeting on the new land was in 1872. On the inaugural day, five meetings were held. Races continued being held at the space for over 13 years until the land became unavailable to horse racing.
When this happened, the Sligo Race Committee opted to go back to Bowmore for their yearly horse races. This move earned them another 12 years before they went back to Hazelwood. This time, racing was held for a little longer than before, and it became the home of horse racing until 1942. Unfortunately, by this time, the land wasn’t in good shape, and the community needed a permanent and more modern venue.
The committee weighed several spots before finally settling on the ‘Pump Field’ located in Cleveragh Demesne. After several inspections, Irish racing authorities approved the long-term lease of the space. The new home of racing in Sligo was officially opened in 1955 to over 7,000 spectators. It was a day that received vast press coverage that was highly complementary.
In the past years, the racecourse has gone through extensive redevelopment, making it one of the most equipped racecourses in Ireland. About €2.5m was used to create a new turnstile and grandstand, improving the changing rooms, the tote facilities, and the pavilion bar, amongst other improvements. In October 2015, additional plans were announced, including major works and small changes, including renovation of the restaurant and bar areas, upgrading the Owners and Trains bar, and building a new entrance building.
The Sligo course is mixed and hosts both flat and jump cards annually. Sligo’s course is undulating, right-handed, and is a mile long. Its main feature is a steep hill that runs from the four-furlong mark to the line. This hill is a stamina test for horses over any distance, especially during wet weather. With the finishing straight being only 1.5 furlongs long, any horse that doesn’t handle the constant turning and climbing the track offers is quickly found out.
Besides the scenic location, many jockeys, trainers, and horse racing enthusiasts believe the hill on the course is one of the toughest in the region. As such, jockeys and trainers frequent the course to prep for major races, including the Galway Festival, since it has a similar racing style.
There are five fences on the circuit on the chase course located on the outside track. The innermost course has EASYFIX hurdles that are four per circuit, with one located in the home straight, two in the back straight, and one on the furlong leading to the finish line.
While horses spend a lot of time negotiating the turn at Sligo, the prominent horses often don’t perform as well as expected. Instead, they make the mistake of starting too fast and end up paying for it on the final hill.
Is there a low draw bias? Since there aren’t many 6.5 furlong races taking place at Sligo, it’s a little difficult to find evidence of a draw bias. But with the limited data experts have from handicaps with ten runners, there seems to be a bias to low drawing horses. This makes sense because over half of the races go to turning after the 1-st furlong mark. However, there isn’t a strong case to support this bias, and wide-drawn horses still have hope of success.
Sligo main racing events
A two-day meeting in early August
Guinness Sligo Handicap Hurdle
This is a part of the popular two-day meeting held in early August and is run over 2 miles.
This is also a part of the two-day Summer Racing Festival held in the afternoon from 1 pm. The race finalists are announced after the fifth race.
Family Fun Day
This is the main attraction at the Sligo racecourse. This day has a great line-up of events with Front Runners giving kids insight into horse racing in an interactive and fun way. Usually, there’s a magician to entertain the crowd, free ice cream and goodie bags for kids, and racing for adults.
Where to bet on Sligo races
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Online betting sites
You can opt to place bets on horse races taking place at Sligo through the traditional betting sites or online betting sites. We recommend using online betting sites for various reasons, including:
- Better odds – online bookmakers offer better odds because they have lower overheads. Better odds often translate into higher wins
- Flexible betting – you can bet from any location and at any time
- Education – if you are new to horse betting, there are online research resources you can use to learn more about horses before betting
- Promotions – these are often given to new bettors. However, some sites also have promotions for their loyal users
How to get to Sligo racecourses
You can take Exit S2 from N4 and then follow the given directions to Sligo. Continue on Pearse Road and take the third right to the racecourse.
Local bus service stops close to the Sligo racecourse
From Dublin, you can use the Connolly Station
The closest airport to the racecourse is Knock International Airport which has daily flights to Liverpool, Manchester, and London.
Sligo racecourse is one of the toughest courses in Ireland. However, because of its difficulty, most trainers and jockeys love it. The races are also pretty competitive but when placing bets, remember to consider the difficult terrain and whether it’s wet weather or not.