Ballinrobe Racecourse, situated in County Mayo, Ireland, is positioned within a beautiful natural amphitheatre.
A real ‘country’ racecourse, both flat and jump tracks are in action at Ballinrobe with the course known for fostering a relaxed race-going atmosphere for punters.
Named ‘Racecourse of the Year’ in Ireland back in 2012, a gong awarded by racegoers, Ballinrobe has its own claims to fame despite not hosting what we’d strictly call top-level performers, though racing over both codes is always competitive.
- Address – Ballinrobe Racecourse, Ballinrobe, County Mayo, F31 E677.
- Owner – Ballinrobe Racecourse Limited.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – Flat and National Hunt.
- Surface – Turf.
Ballinrobe is a right-handed oval, around one mile in length making it fairly tight. The run-in is only around a furlong in length.
The track features an uphill run up the back straight, though the final stages of races are run on the downhill stretch making it ideal for speedier horses. Six-furlong sprints on the flat are staged around a sharp right-handed turn.
For jumpers, the staying types tend not to excel at Ballinrobe because of the course layout. Six fences feature on each circuit; three in the back straight and the final one as the horses ender the short run-in.
Sprint races begin at the furthest point from the stands at the back of the course with the runners almost always on the turn. A sharp right-handed bend features around a furlong or so from the line.
The track tests balance, as jockeys tend to be pushing and shoving as the track goes downhill with runners needing to already be in position as they enter the run-in which is very short and catches hold-up types out regularly.
As well as the three fences on the uphill back straight, another features on the side of the course, one just after the final turn and another is placed at the end of the home straight before what would be the first right-hander for races over two miles and two miles, one furlong.
Ballinrobe Track Analysis
Not just analysts and form students, but jockeys too note Ballinrobe to be a very tight track for flat runners.
Unless the leaders go off at a break-neck pace, those in with a serious shout tend to want to be up in the vanguard early with a low draw being of some benefit.
The home turn is the hardest part for riders. Those challenging wide can be essentially catapulted out of contention unless they are brave enough to go for a gap, something that in itself can leave jockeys behind a wall and scupper chances so some luck in running late on is needed.
Horses with natural pace tend to do best here as they can effortlessly get into a good racing position, so watch out for those with good speed figures and/or who have won from the front previously.
Since a track extension was commissioned for the jumps course, things have become a little fairer with more galloping types not so disadvantaged these days. This would be especially true over longer distances.
For shorter jumps races, the tight nature of the track still presents challenges and, just like on the flat, those with the natural pace to race near the front will tend to be favoured going round here.
The fences are considered to be fairly easy, so jumping isn’t a massive concern, with pace being the main angle to concentrate on.
Visiting Ballinrobe Racecourse
Known as a country racecourse with regular visitors already living nearby, Ballinrobe isn’t very well supported by nearby hotels and the like.
Those needing to stay over will have to look around in advance and be aware that even recommended hotels could be some distance from the track.
How to Get to Ballinrobe
Ballinrobe Racecourse is just a minute off the N84 Castlebar Road.
The track is only 3km from the centre of Ballinrobe heading north west, and 32km south of Castlebar.
Galway is around 50km away by road, the nearest airports being Belfast International which is 300km north east, and Dublin which is 250km to the east.
Major Events at Ballinrobe
There are no major races at Ballinrobe in terms of pattern events and the like, but the biggest meetings to take place are:
- McHale Raceday. The highlight of the calendar here; McHale Raceday is run at the end of May and features the Tiger Roll Beginners Chase.
- Tote Raceday. A popular flat meeting staged in the evening. A summer meeting, the Tote Raceday is a Monday evening fixture in July.
About Ballinrobe Racecourse
As you’d expect, there is a lot of horse racing history in this area.
Racing at Ballinrobe goes back at least 230 years. The present Ballinrobe track has been hosting the sport since 1921 but before that, other venues around or near the town have put on race meetings since around 1774.
Given the tight nature of the slightly elevated, one-mile round track, Ballinrobe offers unique views of every moment of the races it hosts over both codes.
That ‘country’ moniker isn’t just a frivolous title. Ballinrobe is truly rustic and offers real racing people the chance to see every stride the horses make while taking in all of the beautiful landscape around the track that can be seen from the vantage point of the grandstand.
While top-class racing, in terms of ratings and titles at least, doesn’t take place at Ballinrobe, the track has seen its share of superstars.
The brilliant double Grand National winner Tiger Roll managed his first win over fences at Ballinrobe in 2016. The Tiger won the beginners chase that is now named in his honour on McHale Raceday.
The 2016 Irish St Leger winner Wicklow Brave was another to win at Ballinrobe before hitting the heights. He won on his chase debut at the track in 2019.
Doran’s Pride and Traverse are other major names to have graced the turf at Ballinrobe, a track that remains popular with horsemen from all over Ireland whether flat or jumps orientated.