Where:Foxrock, Co. Dublin, 18, Ireland (approx. six miles from Dublin City Centre)
Address:Carmanhall And Leopardstown, Foxrock, Co. Dublin, 18, Ireland, C9V6
Main Races:Irish Champion Stakes, Irish Gold Cup, Irish Champion Hurdle, Golden Fleece Stakes, Savills Chase, Christmas Hurdle, Future Champions Novice Hurdle
Course Length:1m 6f
Racing:Flat, National Hunt
Contact:Phone: +353 01 289 0500

Fax: +353 01 289 2634

Email: info@leopardstown.com
X: https://twitter.com/leopardstownrc
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LeopardstownRacecourse

Tickets:Children under 12 free

13-17 €5.00

General Admission up to €45.00

Leopardstown is home to the Irish Champion Stakes and is one of the leading racecourses in Ireland. Located a short distance from Dublin City Centre with a backdrop of the Dublin mountains, Leopardstown holds 23 race days annually, covering both Flat and National Hunt action. It consistently attracts the best runners from the top Irish yards for spectacular racing meetings.

A history of Leopardstown Racecourse

To the discerning eye, Leopardstown may have something of a familiar look, and that is because it was modelled on one of the UK’s most famous courses, Sandown Park. The original completion date of Leopardstown Racecourse was in 1888 and the project was commissioned by Captain George Quin.

Quin oversaw the building of the course and was a bookkeeper for the Irish Turf Club, before setting up the Leopardstown Racecourse Company. Within six months of that starting, Leopardstown was inaugurated, with more than 5,000 reportedly attending the successful grand opening.

Management moved over to Fred and Harold Clarke in the early 1900s, and a major transformation took place, as the venue started operating both jumps and flat races. In 1967, the course was purchased by the Horse Racing Board of Ireland. This was because the Clarkes feared that the encroaching urbanisation of the surrounding area would swallow up Leopardstown. They therefore decided to sell it off for preservation.

The new owners revamped the racecourse. A new stand was constructed and the racetrack was worked on for improvements, including getting widened. Further revamps to the venue’s facilities took place in the mid-2010s, but the improvements have still managed to maintain an aura of the venue’s rich history.

The Leopardstown circuit

Leopardstown is dual-purpose and is a wide, left-handed track. It’s a fair and level circuit with no significant hills like there are at Cheltenham Racecourse or wild undulations like at Epsom Downs, for example. The gradient from the final bend to the finish does increase, but it’s a gentle rise only.

This longer, gradual rise on the finishing straight creates some really strong tests and forces runners to start pushing harder for positions from way out. The turns are wide and easy, with no sharp or testing challenges, so it’s a fantastic true racing track.

On the shorter sprints, because the first corner comes up on the runners quickly, getting a low draw near the rails can be all-important at Leopardstown. Because of the generous width of the track, it is deemed to be a good venue for pace, with plenty of galloping character about it. There is also typically stiff ground in play there.

What makes Leopardstown special?

The high-profile races held at Leopardstown, from the Irish Champion Stakes to the Irish Gold Cup and Irish Champion Hurdle, are a reflection of the status of the venue. When visitors stand trackside and see the Dublin Mountains as a backdrop, they are transported to a more remote venue than it actually is – as Leopardstown is easily accessible by car and public transportation.

The atmosphere at the venue, which is a blend of modern and historical, always provides a great craic for racegoers, and there is plenty of hospitality around the site. Leopardstown Racecourse’s popular Student Race Day in the summer attracts thousands of student visitors for a day of racing and an evening of partying.

Leopardstown is not just a racecourse either, but a bigger part of the community. There is a golf club in the middle of the oval racetrack, complete with bars, a gym, restaurants, nightclubs and shops. Leopardstown has also been a venue for music festivals, all located in a beautiful 220-acre estate.

Key events at Leopardstown Racecourse

With 23 days of racing each year, Leopardstown offers some spectacular days out. The three main feature races at the course are the Irish Champion Stakes, the Irish Champion Hurdle and the Irish Gold Cup.

However, this is just a small part of the high volume of Grade 1 races that take place annually at the venue, across some key festivals. Here’s a taste of what happens at Leopardstown Racecourse:

Key Leopardstown racing dates:

Dublin Racing Festival

Operating on the first weekend of February, the Dublin Racing Festival is a two-day bonanza of brilliant racing. There are 15 fixtures across the two days, with eight top Grade 1 races. It’s a festival that brings together the best of Irish racing.

Surprisingly, the meeting was only inaugurated in 2018, but it has already become firmly established. It combined several different days of racing from across the calendar into one, now huge Dublin Racing Festival.

In total, there are eight Grade 1 fixtures, two Grade 2, and further Grade A and Grade B handicaps that make up the meeting. Situated around six or seven weeks before the Cheltenham Festival, it’s also a top meeting for trainers to get their charges into shape for the trip across to England.

Among the Grade 1 fixtures at the Dublin Racing Festival, there is the Dublin Chase and the Irish Arkle. However, there are two outstanding races, which we look at below.

The Irish Champion Hurdle

The iconic race, the oldest at the Dublin Racing Festival, the Irish Champion Hurdle was first run back in 1950 and is open to four-year-olds and above. The race is at a distance of two miles with eight hurdles, and successful horses typically go forward for the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Willie Mullins is the all-time most successful trainer, having seen the brilliant Hurricane Fly, Faugheen and State Man all score great wins for him in the race.

The Irish Gold Cup

First run back in 1987, the former ‘Irish Hennessy’ is one of the most anticipated races on the Irish National Hunt calendar. It’s run at a distance of around three miles, with 17 fences faced by the runners. The all-time leading trainer of the Irish Gold Cup is Willie Mullins, thanks to successes with the likes of Florida Pearl and Galopin Des Champs.

Irish Champions Festival

Leopardstown holds Day 1 of the Irish Champions Festival, with Day 2 following at The Curragh. The feature of the Leopardstown Saturday is the Irish Champion Stakes. The first running of the race was in 1976, and it is a fixture that’s open to horses three years old and above.

It’s a big race, with yards having one eye on the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Champion Stakes and Breeders’ Cup to follow for the season, and winners of the Irish Champion Stakes have had plenty of success in those other major races.

Aidan O’Brien tops the trainer charts for the Irish Champion Stakes with wins for the likes of Magical, Luxembourg and Auguste Rodin in the fixture.

Christmas Festival

The Christmas Festival consists of four days of fantastic National Hunt racing from Leopardstown. There are seven Grade 1 races across the meeting, with some highlights being the Paddy Power Steeplechase, the Paddy Power Future Champions Hurdle, the Matheson Hurdle and the Savills Chase.

Savills Chase

The Savills Chase is one for the stayers over a distance of three miles. There are 17 fences during the run, which was first held in 1992. No horse has managed to win the testing Savills Chase more than three times, with only Beef Or Salmon in the early 2000s scoring three successes in the feature race.

Matheson Hurdle

A terrific test for 2m hurdlers, the Matheson Hurdle is a race that has been won by greats such as Hurricane Fly and Istabraq, who both won it four times. The race was formerly known as the Istabraq Festival Hurdle.

This is the final highlight of the Christmas Festival, right at the end of the calendar year, so it is a hugely popular affair. Successful horses tend to jump next into the following year’s Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Willie Mullins is the all-time leading trainer in the Matheson Hurdle.

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