The Curragh Racecourse, known to all and sundry simply as the Curragh, is the top Flat racing venue in Ireland.
The track is located on the Curragh plain in County Kildare and is home to all five of Ireland’s Classic races; the Irish 1000 & 2000 Guineas, the Irish Derby, Irish Oaks and Irish St Leger.
- Address – Curragh Racecourse, County Kildare, Ireland.
- Owner – Curragh Racecourse Limited.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – Flat.
- Surface – Turf.
Racing can be held at the Curragh from March right through to October, with up to 20 meetings taking place, all of them important in their own way.
11 of Ireland’s 13 Group One races are staged here, including all of the Classic races with only the Matron Stakes and the Irish Champion Stakes being run elsewhere, both at Leopardstown.
Those watching the Curragh on TV and seeing the same home straight may not be aware of the slightly complicated nature of the course, or should that be courses, at the Curragh.
All races do finish on the same home straight in front of the stands, but joining that are the Sprint Course, the Derby Course, the Plate Course and the Inner Course.
The Curragh is right-handed, features a slightly uphill three-furlong run-in and no especially sharp turns.
There are starts for five, six and seven-furlong races. They all start pretty much on the turn at a slight rise, before a small downhill run to the straight proper then a rise again. Horses will need to be able to see out every yard of the advertised trip.
To the left of the stands, there are starts for 1½ and 1¼ miles, beginning on the turn before passing the one-mile and seven furlong starts on the inner back straight. The Curragh’s tightest turns then take runners from the Inner Course onto the home straight.
The 1¾ and 1¼-mile starts are essentially the same for the Derby Course and the Plate Course. On the Derby Course, runners keep taking a slight turn from the off all the way until the various tracks link up again heading to the straight. There is a separate chute for one-mile races.
The Plate Course begins in the same place as the Derby Course, though there is a separate start for 1¼-mile races at the furthest point from the stands.
Experienced Curragh jockeys report that the round tracks tend to ride very fair.
The Derby Track and the Plate Track are similar to us all looking from afar, however jockeys tend to say that the former is different in as much as the runners have to turn a lot which makes the draw quite important – low numbers being favoured in larger fields.
Down on the Sprint Track, high numbers are favoured by jocks. This is because they feel the camber forcing horses to the near side, so those drawn on the stands side already tend to be able to race straight. This is despite the fact that fields have to take a slight right-hand turn early on.
On the Inner Course, at least in bigger fields, a low number is best in the draw but be aware that when the ground gets soft, jockeys tend to want to tack over to the near side in the straight.
Visiting the Curragh
The Curragh is simply loaded with history and should undoubtedly be on any true racing fan’s bucket list of visits.
The Curragh’s status as Ireland’s premier Flat venue is not in question. It is the spiritual home of the sport and the place “where champions are made”.
How to Get to the Curragh
The Curragh now offers a free shuttle bus which is a great initiative. The bus runs from Newbridge and Kildare train stations for all fixtures. Buses arrive before the first race and finish one hour after the last. This changes to two hours for larger meetings.
By road, the Curragh is just over an hour from Dublin on the N7 and M7.
Where to Stay
There are recommended hotels for Curragh racegoers listed within Kildare, Dublin, Laois and Wicklow. If you don’t mind travelling into the racecourse, then staying in Dublin may be the best bet to allow for seeing plenty of other sites.
Major Events at the Curragh
There are many top juvenile races, Listed events and major handicaps at the Curragh. Their Group race programme alone though is stunning and features the following, very important races:
|Park Express Stakes||3yo+, Fillies & Mares, Group 3||1m||March|
|Alleged Stakes||4yo+, Group 3||1m2f||April|
|Gladness Stakes||3yo+, Group 3||7f||April|
|Athasi Stakes||3yo+, Fillies & Mares, Group 3||7f||April/May|
|Mooresbridge Stakes||4yo+, Group 2||1m2f||April/May|
|Marble Hill Stakes||2yo Only, Group 3||6f||May|
|Greenlands Stakes||4yo+, Group 2||6f||May|
|Irish 2000 Guineas||3yo Only, No Geldings, Group 1||1m||May|
|Tattersalls Gold Cup||4yo+, Group 1||1m2½f||May|
|Lanwades Stud Stakes||4yo+, Fillies & Mares, Group 2||1m||May|
|Irish 1000 Guineas||3yo Fillies Only, Group 1||1m||May|
|Railway Stakes||2yo Only, Group 2||6f||June|
|Irish Derby||3yo Colts & Fillies, Group 1||1m4f||June|
|International Stakes||3yo+, Group 3||1m2f||June|
|Airlie Stud Stakes||2yo Fillies Only, Group 2||6f||June|
|Pretty Polly Stakes||3yo+, Fillies & Mares, Group 1||1m2f||June|
|Curragh Cup||3yo+, Group 2||1m6f||June|
|Anglesey Stakes||2yo Only, Group 3||6½f||July|
|Sapphire Stakes||3yo+, Group 2||5f||July|
|Irish Oaks||3yo Fillies, Group 1||1m4f||July|
|Minstrel Stakes||3yo+, Group 2||7f||July|
|Kilboy Estate Stakes||3yo+, Fillies & Mares, Group 2||1m1f||July|
|Phoenix Sprint Stakes||3yo+, Group 3||6f||August|
|Phoenix Stakes||2yo Colts & Fillies, Group 1||6f||August|
|Debutante Stakes||2yo Fillies, Group 2||7f||August|
|Futurity Stakes||2yo Only, Group 2||7f||August|
|Blandford Stakes||3yo+, Fillies & Mares, Group 2||1m2f||September|
|Flying Five Stakes||3yo+, Group 1||5f||September|
|Moyglare Stud Stakes||2yo Fillies, Group 1||7f||September|
|National Stakes||2yo Colts & Fillies, Group 1||7f||September|
|Irish St Leger||3yo+, Group 1||1m6f||September|
|Beresford Stakes||2yo Only, Group 2||1m||September|
|Renaissance Stakes||3yo+, Group 3||6f||September|
|Weld Park Stakes||2yo Fillies, Group 3||7f||September|
|Loughbrown Stakes||3yo+, Group 3||2m||September|
About the Curragh
This racecourse really is a true spiritual home for the sport in Ireland.
The name ‘Curragh’ comes from the word ‘Cuirreach’, which means “place of the running horse”, meaning nowhere else in the country is as fitting to host the sport.
Recorded racing goes back to 1727 at the Curragh, though racing of one type or another was happening there well before that.
The first Derby at the Curragh was run in 1866.
The Irish Classics
While in Britain the five Classics are held between Newmarket, Epsom and Doncaster, in Ireland all five races are run at the Curragh.
Because of that, this course has been the scene of wins for some of the genuine all-time greats of the game.
Irish Classic winners at the Curragh include Grundy, Sadler’s Wells, Rodrigo De Triano, Dubawi, Marling, Ribero, Nijinsky, The Minstrel, Troy, Shergar, El Gran Senor, Shahrastani, Montjeu, Sinndar, Galileo, High Chapparal, Ramruma, Ouija Board, Enable, Vintage Crop, Kayf Tara, Vinnie Roe and Yeats.