Five summer meetings for horse racing fans

Bellewstown festival in Meath could provide ideal warm up for Galway Races extravaganza

The tradition of summer racing at Bellewstown dates back centuries. File photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The tradition of summer racing at Bellewstown dates back centuries. File photograph: James Crombie/Inpho


Bellewstown July Festival

Background: Bellewstown Racecourse, on the Hill of Crockafotha in Co Meath, is beautifully situated in a rural setting with views of the Mourne Mountains and the Irish Sea. There are two festivals, one in July and the other at the end of August.

When: It takes place from July 3rd-6th inclusive.

History: The tradition of summer racing dates back centuries and the first record of racing there appears in the August edition of the Dublin Gazette and the Weekly Courier in 1726. Cheltenham Festival winning jockeyLisa O’Neill is the Ambassador for the 2019 July Festival. Hailing from Garristown in north county Dublin and born into a racing family, she has fond memories of racing on the Hill Of Crockafotha and riding winners at her local track.

Tickets: A Punters Package for any of the four evenings referred to as “The Bellewstown Belter,” which includes Enclosure admission, a pint, a €5 ‘Matched’ Bet and a Racecard is available for €20 and can be purchased online at Hospitality options are available each evening including course entry, dining options, race card, on-site betting facility and live entertainment from local bands. Group discounts apply based on numbers.

Killarney July Festival

Background: A picturesque track overlooking the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, the first three days of the meeting take place in the evening, with flat racing on the Monday and mixed on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ladies’ day, on the Thursday, is exclusively national hunt. Racing on Thursday and Friday is a day-time affair.

When: It takes place from July 15th-19th inclusive.

History: Racing at Killarney dates back to 1822 and was described in glowing terms some 20 years later by celebrated author William Thackeray.

Tickets: General admission – €20.00, except Thursday, €25. Hospitality ranges from €60-€90 depending on the day. The hospitality packages provide access to the Panoramic restaurant and views of the winners’ enclosure in the parade ring. It includes general admission, your race-card for the day, private balcony/viewing area, private bar and betting facilities and a reserved table for the day plus a three-course meal and post-racing live entertainment in the Jim Culloty Bar. Access to the hospitality suite opens two hours before racing. There is also a barbecue option and group discounts for parties of 20 or more.

Bulmers Live at Leopardstown

Background: It follows on from a hugely successful summer festival in 2018, where the day’s racing is followed by live gigs. Galway band, The Stunning are first up on the 11th, and will no doubt treat the patrons to their most famous single Brewing Up a Storm. On the 18th, the carnival extravaganza will keep the punters entertained with Dublin racecourse transformed into a Mardi Gras-flavoured atmosphere. On the 18th, pop band Something Happens which includes radio DJ Tom Dunne will take to the stage after the racing. The gigs go on through August too.

When: Thursday, July 11th, Thursday, July 18th and Thursday, July 25th.

History: It’s the 12th year of the venture that has seen bands such as Sister Sledge, The Boomtown Rats, The Strypes, Smokie and Paul Young to highlight just a few.

Transport: Free shuttle bus running from Blackrock Dart station on all concert dates. Bus leaves Blackrock Dart station bound for Leopardstown racecourse at 5.30pm. Bus leaves Leopardstown Racecourse bound for Blackrock Dart station at 10.30pm. Luas shuttle – Free shuttle bus running between Sandyford Luas and Leopardstown racecourse from 4pm until 11.30pm.

Tickets: Concert & Racing, €17. Free entry for children under 18 (must be accompanied by an adult). Gates open at 4.15pm, first race 5.45pm, live concerts at 9pm. Premium Level Access: €40. Summer Sizzler: €33. Flexi Ticket: €23 (offers admission to any 2019 Bulmers Live at Leopardstown event)

Kerrygold Irish Oaks Weekend, Curragh

Background: On the Saturday, there is a top class race day featuring the Group 1 Irish Oaks, Group 3 Jebel Ali Racecourse and Stables Anglesey Stakes and Group 2 Friarstown Stud Minstrel Stakes. The first race is at 2.15pm. On the Sunday the second day of the summer festival features the Group 2 Kilboy Estate Stakes and Group 2 Sapphire Stakes. First race (2.15pm)

When: It takes place on Saturday, July 20th and Sunday, July 21st.

History: As the Irish Times racing correspondent Brian O’Connor observed in April: “Almost two decades after the Aga Khan announced a decrepit Curragh needed urgent resuscitation, construction work on Irish racing’s spectacular new showpiece finally ended in April. Originally dogged by planning problems, then sidelined due to the economic crash, at one stage the odds on the Curragh ever being revamped looked huge.” The project was eventually completed at a cost of €81.2 million, the sport’s biggest ever capital development.

Tickets: On the Saturday, €20 general admission. €15 for seniors and students. On Sunday, €15 general admission. €10 for seniors and students. There is only one enclosure at the Curragh to which all general admission tickets have access. Hospitality in the Curragh pavilion costs €205 per guest on Saturday and €145 on Sunday. Prices include admission, race cards, three-course table d’hôte dining followed by tea and coffee. Guests will be seated at tables of 10. (Prices include VAT & exclude beverages).

The Galway Races, Ballybrit

Background: One of Ireland’s major race meetings that attracts huge crowds and guarantees a party atmosphere. It boasts seven days of racing, hospitality and entertainment. The racecourse offers a great selection of hospitality facilities. More than 140,000 people attended the summer festival meeting in 2017. The total prize fund for the 52 sponsored races reached an impressive €2 million.

When: It takes place from July 29th-August 4th.

Tickets: The festival package (€35 per person available all seven days of the festival) includes admission, racecard, €10 food voucher, €5 drink voucher. This package applies to groups of 10 or more. Advance booking required. The premium package (€50, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; €55 Thursday, Friday; €45 Saturday and Sunday) includes admission, reserved seat badge with access to the Corrib Bar, a racecard, €10 food voucher, €5 drink voucher (groups of 10 or more). Seven-day admission ticket: €140. General admission with online discount: €20.

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