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Race Course Gazeteer

  Principal Race Courses in the U.K.

    Berkshire: Ascot, Newbury

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    Northumberland: Newcastle

    Suffolk: Newmarket

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    Ireland: County Kildare

    Scotland: Ayr

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  Gazeteer: Race Courses of Great Britain and Ireland
graphic

Geographic Listing Ordered by County and Month
Compiled and Written by Nigel Pullen

IRELAND

COUNTY KILDARE -- The Curragh

Manuscripts indicate the ancient Celts raced horses on the vast heath called Cuireach (Gaelic word for racecourse). The Curragh plain had served as center of Irish horse racing ever since. The oldest official course located there was the four mile King's Plate, dating at least as far back as 1717. Conolly's Mile, the straight mile run to the winning post, is still part of the extant course, and dates to the 1760s. The rest of the present course is part of an elliptical course established in the 1750s, later supplanted by the Rutland Course, named for Charles Manners, 4th Duke of Rutland and Viceroy of Ireland. The right-handed course is mostly flat, with a three furlong uphill run-in.
Below left: The Curragh stands in 1775

The Curragh diagram
Curragh 1775

IRISH ONE THOUSAND GUINEAS

First Run: 1922
Month Run: May
Venue: The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland
Distance: 1 mile
Status:Group 1 for 3 year old fillies
Initiated a year after the equivalent race in Ireland for colts, the inaugural running of the Irish 1000 Guineas came in 1922, with the race being won by Lady Violette. No filly had succeeded in taking both English and Irish 1000 Guineas; Attraction, hailing from a half-bred female family line, became the first filly to do so in 2004.

IRISH TWO THOUSAND GUINEAS

First Run: 1921
Month Run: May
Venue: The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland
Distance: 1 mile
Status:Group 1 for 3 year olds
First contested in 1922, the initial running of this race went to the Irish-trained colt, Soldennis. The race often attracts the English 2000 Guineas winner, but so far only Right Tack, Don't Forget Me, Tirol and Rodrigo De Triano have completed the double.

TATTERSALLS GOLD CUP (BALLYMOSS STAKES)

First Run: 1962
Month Run: May
Venue: The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland
Distance: 1 mile 2 furlongs 110 yards
Status:Group 1 for 4 year olds and upwards
This race started life as the Ballymoss Stakes, being run over 1 mile 3 furlongs and 1 mile 4 furlongs for the first two years, before reverting to a mile and a quarter. It was originally an event exclusively for three year olds, but with a change of name to the Rogers Gold Cup in 1984, it was restricted to four year olds and upwards a year later. In 1993 it took up its current title, and finally in 1999 was upgraded to Group 1 status, with the distance increased by half a furlong. An early season target for many of the top older middle distance horses, recent winners include Daylami, Montjeu and Fantastic Light.

IRISH DERBY

First Run: 1866
Month Run: June
Venue: The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland
Distance: 1 mile 4 furlongs
Status:Group 1 for 3 year olds
Racing in Ireland declined towards the latter half of the eighteenth century. Its revival was spurred by the inauguration, 1866, of the Irish Derby, due to the efforts of Lord Howth, the Marquis of Drogheda, and the Earl of Charlemont. The first winner, Selim, beat just two opponents. The race really moved onto the international stage in 1962 when sponsored for the first time by the Irish Hospital Sweep. To get some idea of the effect this had, one only needs to compare the prize money of 1961 (7,921) with that of the following year (50,027). By an odd coincidence, the 1962 winner Tambourine II traced tail female to the mare Gramachree, who was also the granddam to the very first Irish Derby winner, Selim. Run at the end of June, the race now often sees a clash between the winners of the English and French Derbys. The Curragh is right-handed, flat, galloping track, very different from Epsom, home of the English Derby; it takes a versatile horse to win both events. Recent horses to complete the double include Sinndar and Galileo.

IRISH OAKS STAKES

First Run: 1895
Month Run: July
Venue: The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland
Distance: 1 mile 4 furlongs
Status:Group 1 for 3 year old fillies
Originally run over a mile, the first running of this race went to a filly named Sapling. The race was increased in distance to a mile and a half in 1915, and in recent years has developed into a prestigious event for middle distance three year old fillies. It is often the target of the English Oaks winner; Diminuendo, User Friendly and Ramruma all completed the double.

IRISH ST. LEGER

First Run: 1915
Month Run: September
Venue: The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland
Distance: 1 mile 6 furlongs
Status:Group 1 for 3 year olds upwards
Twenty years after the inaugural running of this stamina test, Museum became the first Irish Triple Crown winner, by adding this race to the Irish 2000 Guineas and Irish Derby. Originally only for the three-year-olds, the Irish St Leger made history in 1983 by becoming the first European classic to be opened to older horses. The move was made in an attempt to create a more competitive race, and the 1983 it was won by the four-year-old Mountain Lodge. Since then there have been three dual winners, Vintage Crop, Oscar Schindler and Kayf Tara.

NATIONAL STAKES

First Run: 1915
Month Run: September
Venue: The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland
Distance: 7 furlongs
Status:Group 1 for 2 year olds
Upgraded to Group 1 status in 1985, this race attracts a field on juveniles likely to develop into middle distance three-year-olds. Future Classic winners to take this contest include Desert King, King Of Kings and Sinndar.

MOYGLARE STUD STAKES

First Run: 1975
Month Run: September
Venue: The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland
Distance: 7 furlongs
Status:Group 1 for 2 year old fillies
This race was established to give an opportunity for the more stoutly bred two-year-old fillies, with middle distance aspirations for the following season. Originally a Group 3 event, it was upgraded to Group 2 in 1979, before attaining its present status in 1983. Future Classic winners of the event included Sayyedati and Tarascon.

PHOENIX STAKES

First Run:
Month Run: August
Venue: The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland
Distance: 6 furlongs
Status: Group 1 for 2 year olds
Originally a 5 furlong Group 2 event run at Phoenix Park, the race gained Group 1 status in 1979, being increased in distance to 6 furlongs in 1982. After various financial problems the course was closed in the early 1990s and this event was moved to nearby Leopardstown in 1991. The race usually attracts a field of speedy juveniles. In 2002 it was moved to The Curragh, Co. Kildare.




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