Killarney Racecourse is one of the most popular horse racing destinations in Ireland, if not in Europe. The track is situated in County Kerry and is regarded as the most scenic racecourse one could possibly visit.
Horse racing has been hosted at the current track location in one guise or another since 1936, with limited meetings taking place these days in May, July, August and October.
Both National Hunt and Flat action takes placing during Killarney’s meetings, with the August Festival perhaps being the highest profile.
- Address – Killarney Racecourse, Ross Road, Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland.
- Owner – Killarney Race Company Designated Activity Company.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – Flat and National Hunt.
- Surface – Turf.
Killarney may have limited meetings throughout the year, but both Flat and NH action is hosted on very popular tracks.
The Flat racing course at Killarney is a left-handed oval. It is around nine furlongs around, quite sharp in nature, with the first bend in particular being known to be very tight. Rather uniquely for Flat racing, there are no sprint starts here, in fact no races at a mile or less take place here.
Races at 1 mile, 110 yards and 2 miles, 1 furlong begin in a chute close to the first bend but without having to take it. The 1m6f start is on the back, while the 1m3f and 1m4f starts are in front of the stands.
There is no ‘straight’ as such, as after the last proper bend out the back the horses are almost always on the turn up to the line.
Flat Track Analysis
Jockeys tend to feed back that Killarney is basically fair. Those drawn low sometimes have an advantage, though the back straight and the run after the final proper bend are long so horses have more than enough time and usually enough space to gather themselves together.
Rather than the draw being a factor, jockeys have tended to think that getting caught wide after entering the ‘straight’ is the real disadvantage. As the horses are always going slightly left, being down on the rail can be advantageous as no further ground is lost.
The most amount of ground lost by horses at Killarney is on the bend after the winning line. This is the tightest of them all, so a horse with good balance is often required.
Naturally, the layout is basically the same as with the Flat track; the jumps course is around nine furlongs around, left-handed and slightly undulating.
Once again, the track is fairly sharp, affecting jumpers arguably more than Flat horses, with six fences featuring in each circuit. There is a run-in of around a furlong after the final obstacle, which is enough for race leads to change hands in front of the crowd.
Jumps Track Analysis
National Hunt jockeys have offered some lovely feedback of Killarney’s course. The sharp bends are acknowledged, with riders highlighting the bend at the top leading to the back straight as the one that causes most problems rather than the one after the winning post.
Fences aren’t too daunting here, though one thing to keep in mind is that riders tend to say the ground gets soft very fast so you’re usually on weather watch, looking out for horses who either like it quick or testing. There isn’t an awful lot in between at Killarney.
Visiting Killarney Racecourse
The town of Killarney itself is a picture-perfect place to visit.
Killarney in fact won the award for ‘Best Kept Town’ in 2007, a competition entered into by towns in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. It has kept up it’s clean and inviting nature since.
Tourism in fact is the biggest industry Killarney has. Well over €400 million is generated every year by tourists, with over a million visiting. Can a million people really be wrong? We don’t think so!
How to Get to Killarney Racecourse
Killarney Racecourse sits close to Lough Leane, 90km west of Cork along the N22. The drive should take around 1½ hours.
Ferries going into to Dublin, Dun Laoghaire, Rosslare, Belfast and Larne are all used to bring in racegoers, who then travel by road, while Kerry Airport is only 15 minutes away.
Both Cork and Shannon Airports are less than an hour and a half away by road, with Cork in particular providing links from many airports across in the UK.
From all major towns and cities across Ireland, Killarney Bus & Train Station has major links. The station is just a half-mile drive away, simple and cheap in a taxi.
Once in Killarney, which is simple enough from within Ireland, you can even walk to the racecourse. The track is only a 10-minute stroll from what is a glorious town centre.
Where to Stay
Killarney is made up of 60% international visitors in the peak months, so it goes without saying the town is not short of hotel rooms, B&B’s and rental properties.
Killarney has been welcoming visitors for more than 250 years; its restaurants, bars and hotels are first-class and so staying outside of the town is not required or recommended.
Biggest Races at Killarney
Currently, Killarney runs a 13-day schedule spread over May, July, August and October. These are the better races run during that time:
|Mares Hurdle||4yo+, Mares Only, Hurdle, Listed Race||Jumps||2m1f||May|
|Handicap Hurdle||4yo+, Handicap Hurdle, Grade B||Jumps||2m1f||May|
|An Riocht Chase||5yo+, Chase, Grade 3||Jumps||2m4f||May|
|Killarney National||5yo+, Handicap Chase||Jumps||3m2f||May|
|Irish EBF Median Sires Series Race||2yo Only, Conditions Race||Flat||1m||July|
|Cairn Rouge Stakes||3yo+, Fillies & Mares, Listed Race||Flat||1m||July|
|Handicap Chase||4yo+, Handicap Chase, Grade B||Jumps||2m1f||July|
|Ruby Stakes||3yo+, Listed Race||Flat||1m||August|
|Kingdom Gold Cup||3yo+, Premier Handicap||Flat||1m6f||August|
|Handicap Hurdle||5yo+, Handicap Hurdle, Grade B||Jumps||2m1f||August|
|Handicap Chase||4yo+, Handicap Chase, Grade B||Jumps||2m4f||August|
The closing two-day meeting in October remains popular, but has no races of the above standard.
About Killarney Racecourse
Killarney Racecourse is famous first and foremost for its amazing scenery.
The track looks out over the unrivalled Killarney National Park, something that led to it receiving the coveted title of ‘Most Scenic Racecourse in Ireland’, something we cannot dispute.
Racing in this area has been cherished for quite some time. The present racecourse site was opened to the public in 1936, but in fact the sport has been recorded as having taken place in and around the Killarney area since at least 1822.
The track is only a ten-minute walk from the centre of Killarney’s town centre, meaning the atmosphere around the town on race days in phenomenal.
There are now 13 scheduled race days at Killarney, up from 11, staged across just four meetings.
Three consecutive days are planned in for mid-May, five days in a row are scheduled for the middle of July and three more consecutive days take place in mid-August. The season-closing two-day weekend meeting in October, like the others boasts both Flat and National Hunt racing.