Thurles Racecourse is a jumps-only racecourse in the town of Thurles, located in County Tipperary.
One of three racecourses in the county, Thurles is Ireland’s only family-owned racecourse in fact and has been under the care of the Molony family for more than 100 years.
Racing has been held at Thurles since 1732, back when a three-day festival took place and it remains a popular National Hunt venue even now.
- Address – Thurles Racecourse, Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland.
- Owner – The Molony Family.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – National Hunt.
- Surface – Turf.
Thurles is a right-handed course, undulating, with a total length of about 1¼ miles. Some parts of the track are uphill runs, but runners also have to tackle a pretty harsh descent down to the home straight which in itself is only a couple of furlongs long.
With that, those at the front, often naturally speedier types, suit a track which is generally pretty sharp in nature.
One key feature at Thurles is then excellent drainage, which as well as meaning very few meetings are called off due to rain, it also means the ground isn’t too drastic even in wet conditions further enhancing the chances of quicker horses.
There are six hurdles on each circuit; three down the back, one at the side of the racecourse and two in the home straight.
On the chase course there are seven fences; three down the back, this time two on the side of the course and two in the straight.
Jockey feedback from Thurles is very good. While we from afar see Thurles as sharp and speedy, smart jockeys know to give their horses a slight breather going up the hill otherwise they may not get home.
That doesn’t change the fact that those in position going down the hill are favoured, but what it does mean is that the need for an experienced jockey is as prevalent as horse form when picking out a bet as you can back on the rider knowing what to do here.
As mentioned above, the ground never gets too testing which is something jockeys have confirmed. Some riders will even go wide to find even better ground when the rain comes, but whatever the official description you don’t tend to see treacherous, deep racing ground here.
Visiting Thurles Racecourse
Over and above getting to the races, it is worth taking a look at wider Thurles while in the area.
Among the visitor attractions in and around the town are the Lar na Pairce Museum, while the relaxed culture in the town suits most people.
How to Get to Thurles
The racecourse at Thurles sits just one mile west of the town and five miles away from the M8, Dublin-Cork road.
Thurles is 130 kilometres from Roscommon to the north using the N62, 155km from Dublin to the north-east using the M7, 50km from Kilkenny to the east on the R693, 48 from Clonmel to the south using the R688 and M8 and 74km from Limerick to the west on the M7.
There is a station on the Dublin to Cork line which is only around a mile from the racecourse, with a free minibus service bringing visitors to the track on race days.
If you wish to fly, the closest major airport is at Shannon which is around an hour and a quarter drive to the west, while Dublin Airport has many more routes and is around two hours away by car.
Where to Stay
As well as in and around Thurles itself, rooms are available in Upper Dangan, Cashel, Tipperary, Rossmore, Roscrea and many other towns in the region.
Major Events at Thurles
As a family-run racecourse, it is a great coup for Thurles that it maintains its importance on the Irish National Hunt racing circuit.
Several graded races take place here each year, these events being the best ones on the calendar in National Hunt season order:
|John Meagher Memorial Chase||5yo+, Chase, Listed Race||2m6f||November|
|Kinloch Brae Chase||6yo+, Chase, Grade 2||2m4½f||January|
|Anaglog’s Daughter Mares Novice Chase||5yo+, Mares Only, Novice Chase, Grade 2||2m4½f||January|
|Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle||5yo+, Novice Hurdle, Grade 2||2m4f||February|
|Native Upmanship Novice Chase||5yo+, Novice Chase, Grade 3||2m2f||March|
The names of some of the winners of the above races simply roll off the tongue.
Amberleigh House, Native Upmanship, Don Cossack, Sizing John, Allaho, Sir Des Champs and Champagne Fever have all won big races at this track.
About Thurles Racecourse
There have been recorded race meetings at Thurles since 1732. To find this out, racing historians had to dig deep, finding a document called “Pues Occurances” at Trinity College in which a three-day meeting or festival was referred to in the June of that year at Thurles.
Thurles remains the only racecourse in Ireland to be family owned, having been in the Molony family since the early part of the 20th century.
Before that, a local committee was in charge of running the races in the town with support given by the family. In the early 1900’s however, Pierce Molony took charge of the races fully with his son Paddy taking on the mantle in the mid-60’s.
The tradition continued when Paddy’s son Pierce became manager of the track in 1974, while in 2015 his wife Riona took over along with daughters Annemarie, Helen, Kate and Patricia.
That family history is one of the things that makes Thurles unique.