Although there was an older racecourse at Dundalk, the current venue known as Dundalk Stadium only opened for thoroughbred racing in August 2007. The racecourse is run alongside a greyhound track.
The original turf track at Dundalk closed in 2001, with the total rebuild costing around €35 million. As of now, the exclusively all-weather Flat surface receives excellent feedback from owners, trainers, jockeys and punters.
- Address – Dundalk Stadium, Racecourse Road, Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland.
- Owner – Dundalk Ltd.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – Flat.
- Surface – All-Weather (Polytrack).
Dundalk’s all-weather surface has been acknowledged as one of the best around. Since it was laid, it has produced a number of future Group 1 winners and no doubt many more will head to Dundalk before taking on bigger tasks.
The surface at Dundalk is Polytrack, used also at Lingfield, Kempton, Chelmsford and Chantilly. It covers a left-handed course which is around 1¼ miles in length and features a pretty short run-in of around 2½ furlongs.
The five-furlong chute allows for one-turn races over the minimum trip, with two turns being required for races over six furlongs, seven furlongs and a mile.
In 2013, a cutaway rail was introduced meaning fewer traffic problems at crucial stages, leading to fairer results. This is needed also at places like Chester and Goodwood where cutaways have been used to good effect.
Jockeys agree that as well as being one of the ‘best’ surfaces to ride on, that Dundalk is very fair in nature.
The track here rides pretty quick. While no all-weather surface correlates directly to a going description on turf, it’s certainly true at Dundalk that those who like to get their toe in will not be too at home.
The draw isn’t always as important as you may think, though over both seven furlongs and a mile-and-a-quarter it can have more of an effect as the first bend comes up pretty quickly.
There had been a problem with kickback when the Polytrack was first laid here, though since it was re-laid in 2015 it has become even fairer for all involved.
Dundalk Stadium is located just to the north of Dundalk. The town sits right on the Castletown River, flowing into the Dundalk Bay. The area is pretty much equidistant between Dublin and Belfast, sitting near the Northern Irish border.
How to Get to Dundalk
From Dublin: the track is around an hour away via the M1. Follow the motorway north out of Dublin, passing Swords and then Drogheda.
The road will take you around Dundalk to the north of the town, then head off as if going onto the N1, turning right for Dundalk and Dundalk Stadium which is very nearby.
From Belfast: less than an hour out of Belfast to the south, Dundalk Stadium is around 50 miles away. Head out of the city on the M1 and then A1 heading for Newry.
After crossing the border, the A1 becomes the N1. Carry on until signing turn-offs for Dundalk and the stadium which is a short distance from the main road.
Belfast International, Belfast City and Dublin International airports are all around 50-70 minutes from the racecourse.
Where to Stay
Although if you have means of travel Dublin and Belfast are both great options featuring many, many hotels, Dundalk itself is only 2½ miles from the stadium and has enough available rooms to cater for race days.
Major Events at Dundalk
Dundalk is increasing in popularity, though many of the track’s future stars appear in maiden races.
As of now, the higher-grade races are few and far between although the Pattern schedule will surely increase here in the future. As of now, these are Dundalk’s top races:
|Patton Stakes||3yo Only, Listed Race||1m||March|
|Red God Handicap||3yo+, Premier Handicap||1m2½f||August|
|Diamond Stakes||3yo+, Group 3||1m2½f||September|
|Legacy Stakes||2yo Only, Listed Race||5f||October|
|Star Appeal Stakes||2yo Only, Listed Race||7f||October|
|Mercury Stakes||2yo+, Group 3||5f||October|
|Cooley Stakes||3yo+, Fillies & Mares, Listed Race||1m||November|
About Dundalk Stadium
Back in 1999, the Dundalk Race Company and Dundealgan Greyhound Racing Company merged. The new Dundalk Racing (1999) Ltd would look to host horse racing and greyhound racing at the same venue.
There was an existing turf racecourse at Dundalk. It was mainly used for National Hunt events in the past, though a change in direction for the area had long been on the cards.
The new company would now replace that track with an all-weather surface, with the greyhound track being installed on the inner. This meant not only an end to turf horse racing at Dundalk, but also the closure of the Ramparts Greyhound Stadium which shut its doors in November 2000.
With Irish greyhound racing expanding, Dundalk was well placed to take advantage. The new ‘Dundalk Stadium’ opened for business on November 29, 2003 at an initial cost of €11 million.
Afterwards, the all-weather thoroughbred track was given the go-ahead too. Ireland needed this, as racing on synthetic surfaces was increasing in popularity and means more fixtures could be fulfilled. There is no excessive wear and tear and very few fixtures are abandoned due to conditions.
The racecourse opened on August 26, 2007, with a further €24 million cost reported. The track at Dundalk is floodlit, another feature that leads to racing being possible any time.