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Down Royal Racecourse

Published on: 03/09/2016

Down Royal Racecourse is located within close proximity to Maze, Lisburn, in County Down and is one of Northern Ireland’s largest racecourses. The track is right-handed with the ground rising and falling over a distance of one mile and seven-and-a-half furlongs, ending with an uphill finish. Down Royal Racecourse offers both Flat and National Hunt racing, hosting 13 fixtures each year. Important events include the Two-day Northern Ireland Festival and its JNWine Champion Chase, as well as the Ulster Derby Day in June.

The Down Royal Corporation of Horse breeders was founded in 1685, via a Royal Charter authorised by King James II. Its purpose was to promote the breeding of horses in the County Down area. In addition to the horse breeding initiatives, a new racecourse was created in Downpatrick. The track design was laid out into the shape of a horse shoe and measured three-miles.

In 1690, the King’s Plate event was introduced by King William III. The race was the first of its kind and included a donation from the King of £100. The purse was boosted by another donation of £100 from King George II in 1750. The race, now known as Her Majesty’s Plate, is still enjoyed today, and the Privy Purse continues to contribute to the prize money.

The racecourse was relocated to the current site in 1789. The venue has been hosting top-class horse racing action to the people of Ulster ever since. Down Royal Racecourse has seen many changes over the years, such as the introduction of the Governor’s Cup in 1924. The popular event was run until 1999 and was once attended by H.M Queen Elizabeth (1958). In 1962, the Ulster Derby was inaugurated and today it is worth more than £75,000. The summer event provides high-quality flat racing and attracts top-class talent from around the world.

The Northern Ireland Festival was founded in 1999. The £150,000 Grade 1 James Nicholson Wine Merchant Champion Chase is the highlight of the event. Great horses such as Florida Pearl, Looks like Trouble, Beef or Salmon and steeplechase expert Kauto Star have all raced at Down Royal Racecourse. Down Royal Racecourse is technically located in the United Kingdom - however, the establishment conducts its business under the authorisation of Horse Racing Ireland instead of the British Horseracing Authority. This is the case for all venues in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. However, the “Royal” connection remains strong as associations with the British Royal Family go back a long way.

Since the early 1990’s, Down Royal Racecourse has benefitted from extensive upgrades to its facilities. Boasting spectacular views over the track and finishing post, a new grandstand with fourteen Corporate Boxes, including a VIP Hospitality Suite and Public Bar, was added in 1993. The Governor’s Stand was finished five years later. Further improvements include a new Hospitality Pavilion, finished in the summer of 2009. Children up to the age of twelve can enter for free provided that they are accompanied by an adult. Ticket prices at the course vary greatly depending on enclosure and events chosen.

Published on: 03/09/2016 © Bet Bind
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