Situated in County Westmeath, right in the centre of Ireland, Kilbeggan Racecourse hosts annual National Hunt meetings and has done at this location since 1901.
The track is unique within the jumps games for focusing on summer racing, with fixtures staged between April and September including its biggest day; the Midlands Grand National meeting which takes place in July.
- Address – Kilbeggan Racecourse, Kilbeggan, County Westmeath, Ireland.
- Owner – Kilbeggan Race Committee Company Limited.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – National Hunt.
- Surface – Turf.
Kilbeggan is a right-handed track, one known to be pretty sharp in nature. Each circuit is around nine furlongs in total.
The track undulates and features a very sharp turn which comes along after the penultimate fence. While that requires speed and agility, the run-in is a good 300 yards long and is uphill. That said, a proper staying type doesn’t usually suit Kilbeggan, speed being the main asset required.
Each circuit features six fences on the chase course, with the hurdles track featuring to its inner and being very similar in layout.
The jockey feedback on Kilbeggan is that the two tracks, hurdles and steeplechase, ride differently which is quite a surprise.
The chase track is more favoured, with the hurdles course proving very tricker for riders on occasions being as it is so tight.
With this in mind, handy types are supposedly fancied by jockeys as long as they can keep their heads, as those who then go off too quickly can hand a rare opportunity to those at the back who are usually at a major disadvantage here.
We’ve seen similar things with figure of eight courses in England; that usually inconsistent, lazy or quirky horses may suit Kilbeggan as its tight nature tends to keep them interested.
The turns and ridges are a livener in fact for horse and jockey, with some specialists returning each summer. A horse and indeed a rider with a proven record around here would be a big betting advantage.
Visiting Kilbeggan Racecourse
Summer jumping is increasing in popularity as the years go on. Combining National Hunt racing with good weather is a rare treat, and that’s what is on offer at a racecourse that labels itself as ‘the heart of Ireland, the soul of racing’.
How to Get to Kilbeggan Racecourse
The midlands track of Kilbeggan is truly in the centre of Ireland and sits close to the new National M6 motorway. That road links Dublin and Galway, meaning Dublin is now just an hour away from Kilbeggan.
Kilbeggan draws most of its loyal following from Athlone, Tullamore and Mullingar and is in each race of all three. It is around a mile or so from the centre of Kilbeggan.
Kilbeggan Racecourse is 13 miles from Mullingar along the N52, 20 miles from Athlone on the new M6 motorway and just 8 miles from Tullamore on the N52.
As well as this, the track is also a reachable 30 miles from Portlaoise using the N80 towards Tullamore and then the N52 and 57 miles from Dublin using the M4 towards Kinnegad and then the M6 motorway.
The course can also be reached in under 90 minutes from Limerick, which is 80 miles away on the N7 to Nenagh and then along the N52, and Galway, another 80 miles along the M6.
Where to Stay
If you’re willing to commute then you could sample all that Dublin has to offer either side of racing at Kilbeggan, with very few rooms being available in the town itself.
There are more rooms offered in Tullamore, Athlone and Mullingar with Kilbeggan being at the natural centre of the three towns.
Midlands National Meeting
Racing is encapsulating at Kilbeggan in the warmer months, if not exactly top-class strictly speaking.
The biggest racing day on the calendar here is the Midlands National Day, with this being the current schedule:
|Mares’ Maiden Hurdle||4yo+, Mares Only, Maiden Hurdle||2m3f|
|Maiden Hurdle||4yo+, Maiden Hurdle||2m3f|
|Handicap Hurdle||4yo+ Rated 80-102, Handicap Hurdle||2m3f|
|Handicap Hurdle||4yo+, Handicap Hurdle||3m½f|
|Beginners’ Chase||5yo+, Beginners’ Chase||3m1f|
|Midlands National||4yo+, Handicap Chase, Grade B||3m1f|
About Kilbeggan Racecourse
We can trace the origins of Kilbeggan Racecourse as we know it back to 1840. Then, on March 9th, a small group organised a race in the town for a Challenge Cup. The prize was to be 40 guineas, with a further 10 guineas added by the stewards.
From then until 1855 racing was held in the area at several different locations, including where racing takes place today.
After a sabbatical, racing returned in 1879 when the first every first recorded official meeting was held on April 17th of that year in a field. The land was owned by the Locke family, with the distillery they owned still in operation in Kilbeggan today. Racing continued to take place at the site until 1885.
After another break, racing was once again restarted in 1901 in Loughnagore right on the site at which we see the races now. Meetings have been held there ever since, apart from the war years of 1941-1945.
Kilbeggan has relied on financial assistance, something which was threatened with withdrawal by the Racing Board during the 1950’s and 60’s which affected what was a voluntary committee charged with running the track.
In the 70’s however, things changed for the better which meant we have been able to witness racing here ever since.
Firstly, having previously hosted Flat racing, Kilbeggan made the change to National Hunt racing in 1971, with sponsored races coming for the first time in 1973 injecting some much needed cash.
Those revenue rich years meant that the New Complex could be built in 1990, as well as a buy-out of the land the racecourse stands on.
Despite the presence of Cheltenham and Aintree in England, jumps racing is immensely popular in Ireland but good weather is offered in that code all too seldom. This is where Kilbeggan steps in.
The Summer Evening Festival takes place over ten weekend race meetings, including both the Summer Sunday Festival and the aforementioned Midlands National meeting.
The racecourse has certainly found a niche and is now supported very well indeed, something added to these days by the TV coverage offered.
Some top trainers have sent horses, and continue to send horses to Kilbeggan, including Joseph O’Brien and champion trainer Willie Mullins.