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Downpatrick Racecourse

Published on: 03/09/2016

Downpatrick Racecourse is one of only two horse racing venues in Northern Ireland. It is located in County Down, near to Downpatrick town. It has a right-handed oval track which covers a distance of one mile and two furlongs with a difficult uphill stage to the finishing post. Downpatrick Racecourse offers both National Hunt and Flat racing events and hosts 11 fixtures throughout its racing calendar. The highlight of the season is the Ulster National, which takes place in February.

Downpatrick’s first ever race meeting took place in 1685, which coincided with creation of the Down Royal Corporation of Horse breeders under Royal Charter from King James II. Originally, the old grounds were laid out in a horseshoe shape covering a distance of three miles. In 1690, one of the first important races, known as the King’s Plate, was held. The £100 prize money was donated by King William III.

In 1690, the Byerley Turk - one of three great horses known as the forefathers of the thoroughbred bloodstock - raced at Downpatrick. The spectacle came about after Colonel Byerley stopped at Downpatrick before heading to the Battle of the Boyne. He stayed long enough to race the Byerley Turk at the track. Over the years, many other top thoroughbreds have competed at the course including the winner of the 1947 Aintree Grand National, Caughoo and the 1988 Irish Grand National victor, Rhyme n’ Reason.

Downpatrick Racecourse relocated nearer to the town in the late 18th century. The facility has enjoyed horse racing activity for over two centuries and has managed to survive the relocation as well as several disruptions during the two World Wars. A supporters club was founded in the 1970s, which helped to provide Downpatrick Racecourse with cash funds for maintenance.

Downpatrick Racecourse has welcomed many famous horses over the years including Laffy, who was owned by H.M. the Queen Mother. Laffy came second in the Ulster Grand National - however, the winner (Connkehely) was found to have missed a fence and Laffy was famously declared the winner.

Just like Down Royal Racecourse, Downpatrick Racecourse conducts its racing activities under the authority of Horse Racing Ireland rather than the British Horseracing Authority. The racecourse has a strong network of support from the local community and the meetings convey a tight-knit family atmosphere. The Ulster Grand National held every February is just one of Downpatrick’s major events. Other examples include September’s Ladies Day and December’s Boxing Day meeting. In recent years, the facility has benefited from extensive improvements including a new grandstand which provides enough room for 1,500 race goers and includes numerous bars and eateries.

There are various price packages to suit all pockets. Clients can enjoy many eateries, bars and marquees as well as on-site Tote betting facilities.

Published on: 03/09/2016 © Bet Bind
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